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STB releases Draft EIS for Montreal, Maine & Atlantic abandonment

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The Section of Environmental Analysis at the Surface Transportation Board issued a draft environmental assessment on the proposed abandonment of 233 miles of rail line in the northern Maine counties of Aroostook and Penobscot. The draft review found that the abandonment of this line 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.

However, the draft review,
which estimated it would take four trucks to replace every rail car, found that
the diversion of rail traffic onto trucks would appear to be "within the
level of traffic allowed by area roads." The draft also recommended steps
to reduce the impact of the rail salvage operation that would follow any
abandonment.

The Montreal, Maine &
Atlantic Railway has asked the Surface Transportation Board to approve the
abandonment of the lines because they do not generate enough revenue. The Maine
Department of Transportation and congressional representatives have asked the
STB to study the impacts of any abandonment and to hear from local shippers and
residents.

The conclusions and
recommendations in the study are preliminary. The Section of Environmental
Analysis welcomes and encourages public comments on all aspects of its draft environmental
assessment.

To further reach out to those
who would be affected by this matter, the full Surface Transportation Board has
scheduled a public hearing at the District Courthouse in Presque Isle, Maine,
on May 10 at 9 a.m. The Board specifically wants to hear public feedback on the
effects the abandonment and additional truck traffic would have on local and
state roads. The Board will take public comments and the full environmental
record into consideration when making a final decision.

The Draft environmental
assessment was issued April 9 in the proceeding titled Montreal, Maine &
Atlantic Railway, Ltd – Discontinuance of Service and Abandonment – In Aroostook
and Penobscot Counties, Maine, STB Docket No. AB-1043 (Sub No.1). The draft environmental
assessment can be found at www.stb.dot.gov, under "Environmental
Matters" then under "Key Cases."

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