WASHINGTON, DC - Congressman Mike Michaud, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, provided an update on the Surface Transportation Board's (STB) consideration of an application filed by the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, Ltd.(MM&A) to discontinue rail service and abandon lines in Penobscot and Aroostook counties.
"On July 7th, the STB had a chance to hear from individuals, businesses and organizations representing a wide range of interests throughout northern Maine," said Michaud. "I urged the STB to come to Presque Isle because I thought it was important that they find out firsthand just how devastating this abandonment would be to the region's economy. I had an opportunity to testify in person and made sure to send the same message as everyone else - we need to find a way to save these tracks."
Since the hearing, the State of Maine has filed an Offer of Financial Assistance (OFA) with the STB. The OFA outlines what the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) is prepared to pay to purchase the line, as well as what MDOT believes is a fair compromise regarding trackage rights on the line.
Now, the STB will use the testimony that it received during the hearing, as well as documents that have been filed with the STB since the abandonment was filed to make two decisions. First, the STB will determine whether or not the MM&A will be allowed to abandon the line. If the abandonment is granted, the STB will review the OFA that was submitted by the State of Maine and will either determine that the MM&A should sell the track to the State of Maine under those terms, suggest new terms or work with both parties to develop new terms. Before that decision is filed, MDOT and MM&A can still negotiate a sale to the State of Maine.
"Since October of 2009, I have worked hard to bring this issue to the attention of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the STB and the Federal Railroad Administration," said Michaud. "Just last week, as President Obama touched down in Maine for a vacation on Mount Desert Island, I used the opportunity to make the case that this line must be saved. It has been great to work with a wide range of stakeholders to make this process open and accessible to the people of Maine. Throughout this process I have urged all parties to do what is in the best interest of the communities that will be impacted by this proposed abandonment."