A Turnpike in Maine?



The previous Legislature appropriated $300,000 to conduct a feasibility study on whether to build a 220-mile private toll highway through central Maine, from Calais to Coburn Gore. Proponents, led by construction company Cianbro's chairman, Peter Vigue, have argued that the $2 billion plan would create jobs and improve the local economy. Critics question the economics of the project and worry that the plan would damage the environment and natural wildlife habitats. Residents in the area also worry that their land could be seized by eminent domain to make way for the road, which Vigue has repeatedly said won't happen.

Last August, after a backlash from voters in his district, Sen. Doug Thomas, the bill's sponsor, lobbied Governor LePage to slow down the study until eminent domain concerns could be addressed. Debate over the plan has been extremely bitter, and Vigue has been traveling with bodyguards, while Sen. Thomas says he went out to get a concealed handgun permit after receiving threats and dead fish were left around his home in Ripley.

The Maine legislature is having a difficult time in pushing forward for a 220 mile private toll highway.

An east/west turnpike would help development in the State and create jobs. It is unlikely Federal funds would be available for this type of development. On the other hand, the eminent domain and anti-development sentiment raise substantial issues on the likely success of the proposal.

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