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STB postpones action on proposed MMA abandonment

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TheSurface Transportation Board agreed to postpone action on the proposed abandonment of rail lines in Northern Maine in order to give the parties time to arrive at a mediated solution.

The state of
Maine and the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. have agreed to
confidential mediation conducted by the Board. The Board will suspend any
formal action on the matter for three weeks and will postpone a public hearing
scheduled for May 10 in Presque Isle, Maine. The hearing is postponed until further
notice of the Board.

"We are
pleased that the parties in the case have decided to take advantage of the
Board’s mediation services,” said STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III.
"Agreements resulting from folks sitting down and negotiating are almost
always better than decisions imposed from Washington."

The railroad
has asked the Board for permission to abandon 233 miles of rail line in
Aroostook and Penobscot counties. Maine officials fear the abandonment would
hurt the economy of Northern Maine and cost jobs.

Earlier this
month, the Board’s Section of Environmental Analysis released a draft
environmental assessment that found that the abandonment of the lines could
divert onto Maine’s highways as many as an additional 73,344 truck trips per
year, consuming an additional 3.3 million gallons of fuel per year.

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