Franklin Countys First News

East-west highway: ‘This is a project that is going to happen’

Daryl Brown

Darryl Brown discusses the east-west highway plan at Tuesday morning's Chamber breakfast.

FARMINGTON - The program manager of an ambitious proposal to create a highway running east-west across northern Maine presented details about the plan this morning, at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce's Business Breakfast Series.

Darryl Brown, formerly of Main-Land Development Consultants of Livermore Falls and the state's Department of Environmental Protection commissioner, accepted a position at Cianbro late last year, as the program manager for the east-west highway. He discussed the proposal with members of the Chamber at the University of Maine at Farmington's North Dining Hall Tuesday morning.

He noted east-west highway proposals had existed since prior to World War II, but that the latest version incorporated a new route and new financing. The project would be funded through the private sector, Brown said.

"This is a project that is going to happen," he said.

The proposed highway would consist of a 500-foot-wide right-of-way, running 220 miles from Calais to Coburn Gore in northern Franklin County. It would aim to take advantage of anticipated growth in the container shipment system, with Brown citing a study that suggested the world's annual shipment of the 1,280-cubic-foot containers could jump from 85 million containers, as of 2008, to 243 million containers in 2024. Maine and the Canadian maritime states represented a natural link in that supply chain, Brown said, due to their deep water ports and relative proximity to manufacturing sectors in the American midwest.

"Maine is perfectly positioned to become a leader in global trade," Brown said.

While rail offered some opportunities for transport, Brown said, it could not provide the flexibility and ability to precisely time deliveries that trucking allowed.

The east-west highway would charge tolls to recoup the estimated $2.1 billion investment. Brown said that passenger cars would be charged a rate that would be similar to those charged on the Maine Turnpike, while commercial trucks would make up the bulk of the toll revenue. Cianbro and other planners are already in the process of lining up investors, Brown said.

The highway would utilize six to eight interchanges in the state. In Franklin County, Brown said, one interchange would likely be located near Coburn Gore. Another would be possible somewhere north of Flagstaff Lake. It is anticipated the route would incorporate Route 27, north of Eustis, after coming west out of The Forks.

The highway would be patrolled by the Maine State Police, Brown said, who would be contracted by the highway's owner to do so.

The proposal would also include a multi-use recreational trail that would travel alongside the highway, improving trail connectivity for snowmobilers, ATV riders and others, Brown said, by linking trail systems together.

The highway would avoid conservation and tribal lands, and Brown detailed the step-by-step process that planners were using to wind the highway around residences, mountains, wetlands and environmentally-sensitive areas such as deer yards. While acknowledging that the project would not be able to avoid every wetland area, Brown said that the process allowed the planners to develop the best possible route.

Brown said that developers had committed to being environmentally compliant with ISO 14001, generally regarded as a significant set of regulatory benchmarks. Wildlife crossings would be used to allow for migration of deer and other animals. Brown said that the specific location of the crossing point of the east-west highway and Appalachian Trail had not been chosen, although a couple of likely candidates had been developed.

Eminent domain would not be available, due to the project being privately developed, Brown said.

He did note the plan faced opposition and that planners were anticipating permitting and legal challenges. Brown said, in a perfect world, the project would begin the three-year local and state permitting processes by the end of 2013. Construction was anticipated to take another three years. Realistically, given all possible challenges, Brown said, the project could take 9 to 10 years to complete.

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44 Responses »

  1. it was a dumb idea to begin with which is why it hasnt happened and is a waste of money to continue with.

  2. What will this do for the average Joe??? Do we really need it.. Will Maine and its citizens be better off with it. What will this private funded highway do for the bank accounts of the ones building it. There must be huge huge profits expected or they would not even suggest it. will this be just another huge debacle?? Maine can barley support the roads they have. Again I say show me just what this will do for us every day hard working fools.

  3. "Eminent domain would not be available, due to the project being privately developed, Brown said."

    I believe the Supreme Court ruled in favor of eminent domain takings for privately financed projects in its controversial Kelo v. City of New London decision. So it does not seem that eminent domain would not be available.

  4. Build it. The jobs required to do this job will lift a portion of this state out of the woods ghetto it lives in. The opportunity to work will be available, to those willing. It will be interesting to see if the general contractor will need to import workers to get the job done.

  5. We hear time and again that the private sector is more efficient than the government. If this group of individuals and companies want to invest in this project we should not oppose them.

    The municipalities they pass through will collect property taxes on the value of the development within their boundaries (this will help the common man by reducing the amount of taxes needing to be collected from the residents).

    Only Maine businesses and Maine workers will be employed in building the road (this will put many more workers to work and make the companies contracted with stronger and able to continue as a business employing Maine workers).

    The policing activity will be outsourced to the Maine State Police (this will provide new jobs for more State Policemen, more vehicle purchases from Maine Auto Dealers, and more mechanic work for those maintaining the vehicles - all Maine workers).

    The Recreation Corridor included in the 500 foot path will benefit hikers, bikers, ATV Riders, Snowmobile Riders, horse back riders and more... not to mention all the small business that will be created at the interchanges to support their needs. (If you were an enterprising soul you would begin figuring out where the intersections will be and begin buying up all the land. The McDonald, Burger King, Taco Bell and Irving companies will pay a handsome price or royalty.... they in turn will pay handsome property taxes thereby reducing the tax burden on the residents).

    Come on Average Joe's, let's be greedy and let these folks develop this highway and help carry the tax burden of the State.

  6. Better think about the changes this would mean to some of Maine's most beautiful areas. I'd hate to see this happen. "Progress" isn't always progress.

  7. In exchange for the East - West Right of Way, the developer will build a highway is how the story reads. It might be as narrow as 500' or, the right of way might allow for additional land purchases to be incorporated within the highway system. Or, perhaps the right of way allows for additional development such as pipe lines, transmission lines, rail, and associated networks that should also be considered for such causes as alternative energy. In any regard, the premise for the agreement with the state, is in exchange to right of way(s) the developer promises to build a road that will be allowed for the use of public transportation. At a cost the developer stipulates for granting permission to the public for use of the road and served under the guardianship of the state police with the ultimate authority and control solely within the rights granted within the terms of the right of way. That is some kind of progress. Any speed limits?

  8. To :Give them a chance

    That does not sound like a part of maine a I would want to live in,Mc donalds, Burger King, Taco Bell . Might as well live in Portland. You are a DREAMER if you think the tax burden will be lessened,HA HA! There might be work for the short term if enough skilled people can be found. We have heard this propaganda before. People live up there for the peace and quiet and the wilderness .If they want a burger it wont be from Mc donlads. could be a few jobs picking up litter from all the fast food joints and urine jugs and sryinges from the long haulers . Once its ruined it is ruined for ever so better think real good about this one . Where do you reside?

  9. This East-West highway needs to be built.
    It is already 25 years overdue.

    Maine's road system is inadequate: you cannot go East- West
    without going South and then North. Millions of barrels of
    fuel are wasted each year in Maine by this out of date road system.

    If Cianbro and others in the private sector can build it, let's go.
    Travel time will be cut by 50%, AND be much safer
    all winter. If Cianbro can't get it approved in the LePage
    administration they may never get it approved !!

    All you tree huggers relax. The mosquito, black fly, deer and
    piping plover will not become extinct as a result of
    this highway!

  10. You can't even maintain the roads we got now, so lets add more you can't take care of. WASTED IDEA & MONEY

  11. This would cripple the rest of our rural small Towns! Like Rockwood, Eustis, Phillips, Harmony and so many others have in the past! We need to preserve our Forest and "Wild" for recreation, Hunting, and so on for us and OUR CHILDREN! This East/West road is BS and RIDICULUS! We do not need more roads! We have not even enough money and revenue to maintain what we have!!!!!!!!!

  12. Bad Idea, Canada will benefit more and the average poor land owners will get the shaft. And I would bet that they will "take" all the land that they want. It would be interesting to see the list of Private Investors and where they are from. So much for scenic Maine.

  13. Sorry folks but if the developers have paid for a right of way or outright land purchase there is not much you can do. It's their land, or land they have paid for the right to use. Now, how can we benefit by getting on board and becoming a part of this?

  14. let's get the state budget balanced and pay for our schools before you build another road that won't be properly maintained. You can't keep the roads you have in good shape. I am not for this and never will be

  15. This is a horrible idea.
    Do not fall for this garbage it is a trap.
    Short term gain will be all that will be had for mainers and this will be a great loss to the beauty, peace and serenity of the northwoods which will become a noisy polluted commerce corridor.
    Follow the example of( Percivel Baxter instead) Honor Respect and Preserve the land and Maine will always be beautiful and secure.
    Those big container trucks won,t be stopping to explore and enjoy maine they will be driving right on through and you will be the ones paying for the road in the long run.
    This will be a huge loss to future generations of people who live in these areas--the constant road noise will not bring you any kind of improvement only noise ,pollution and strife.
    Do not let these global corporations and their puppets destroy anymore of our beautiful lands.
    Enough already don't be duped. Keep Maine's Northwoods beautiful with the sounds of nature.
    Stand up and tell them no or we will all be sorry.
    Don't be suckers for a snomobile/recreational trail we have plenty of beautiful ones already and wow imagine a trail with a view of 100,000lb container trucks rolling by what a bonus---NOT!
    The jobs would be temporary--do we really need more temporary jobs? We need real stable lasting jobs that pay well. Destroying our natural beauty for short term gain never works and we should wake the heck up about that . Natives and native mainers who live in harmony with the land and the Great Spirit should rise against this proposal to make sure it goes nowhere so posterity has beautiful usable land.
    I hope people will see through the lies and look at the big picture.
    God Bless Mainers for being tough and not easily pushed around by the elite money interests who will benefit from this garbage--dump this proposal and your children and grandchildren will thank you-accept this proposal and they may curse you for your shortsighted sacrificing of their future for your short term minimal financial gain.
    Keep Maine Strong and Beautiful I beg of you.

  16. look at a map of maine,,,where is the most populated areas,,,,along the maine turnpike...i think this is a great idea to populate unused sections of the state only visited by loggers.look at all the highways in vermont,,beautiful drive,,,and this will open more of the state up to tourism

  17. Use of the existing Rail system or even improvement of this system have time and again been shown to be the most economically viable plan to improve Canada's problem of Maine being in the way. How many of you people even go to this area and realize what will be ruined? Also where is the infrastructure to support it. This is just an attempt by Cianbro to make themselves wealthy at the expense of our environment.

  18. Exactly what route it will take will depend on who owns the land and can profit the most by routing the highway through it. I know this sounds negative but unless the planners and committees for this are held under a microscope as well as the land purchases then corruption will run the show.

  19. What, are you one of the investors or an out of state resident. Please tell us tree huggers how this really benefits us other than temporary jobs. I would be willing to bet that taxes do not go down. I love how this line is always used. I would I, as a life long Maine resident, benefit from this. Please entertain me with a BS answer. It sound like you have all of the answers.

  20. I agree with Natures quiet destroyed. Industrial wind turbines,East-West Highway, drinking water.Whats next???? Lets" Pave paradise, and put in a parking lot'

  21. I don't see this happening. Its been talked about forever. The route does little to benefit Maine. When proposed in 1974, it was to basically replace the "airline" (Rt. 9) and upgrade Rt. 2, and connect Bangor with Skowhegan, Farmington, cut between Rumford and South Paris into Concord, NH. That made more sense to me. I don't see this road causing cities to pop up around West Forks or Eustis. And I don't see how tourists coming from other states will be aided by this route. An East -West highway is not a bad idea, but it should be more beneficial to existing Maine towns, like our Rt. 2 corridor. And it ought to be federally funded like all the other interstates, so obnoxious tolls are not necessary.

  22. Think about it, when the Construction Phase starts you can bet money that there will be Blue and White Equipment Building this Highway, I realy don't see Cianbro working the Equipment of the Little guys along the way. Is this all part of Cianbro's Master Plan of bringing in the Oil Sands from Canada, that they have also been spending Huge amounts of Money Studdying (What a great Right Of Way for a Pipe Line) These people don't care about preserving the Rural Maine Way Of Life, they are looking at the PROFITS. Do we realy want to turn the Northern Forests of Maine into the sort of thing that we have to our South? Look at the Kibby Wind Farm for Example, sure there were Jobs created durring construction, but there is now Bald Mountain Tops covered with Wind Towers that do nothing for the Maine People, espeacially the people that live in the area. (The Power is sold out of state). If the LIBERAL DO GOODERS get there way, we in Rural Maine might as well be living in New Jersey. Taking your kids for a Hike into the Woods to catch some Native Brookies, will be a THING OF THE PAST. If you want huge Super Highways, Street Lights, Toll Booths, Rest Area Plazas, and everything that comes along with it, then they should go back where you came from and leave our way of life alone.

  23. For the nay-sayers...don't want it. Fine. Get off welfare, and go to work to help the rest of us who are paying the taxes for those who don't work. Maybe we should rip up I-95 and turn the whole state into nothing but welfare land.

    This plan is brilliant. It's not tax-payer dollars, and could generate tons of tax dollars for the State. I don't think it will mean McDonalds increase. Towns will be able to regulate that. Maine is the last on the list of business friendly. Maine has over 30% of their population that relies on welfare. We've got to get the lead out and DO something before we ALL go broke.

  24. I think it's a great idea. Some of us 'north woods' people would love a little better access.


  26. While I haven't yet decided where I stand on this issue, I do find that some of the pro-highway posts sound like they were written by Cianbro's public relations office.

  27. The Largest Environmental Mitigation Project Ever Undertaken in the U.S.

    Maine's East West Highway

    Title 23 Section 4251
    lobbyist authored highway privatization statute allows any transportation facility in Mane to be privatized and is one of the worst piece so privatization legislation ever written....

    That piece of legislation, still on the books delivers:

    (1) public guarantees of private financing and up to 50% in public financing

    (2) eminent domain

    (3) expedited permitting

    (4) complete private control of the roadway that by passes normal public highway labor issues and toll debates

  28. Well, I guess I'm confused. Does anyone have any issues with the Golden Road, north of Greenville, when they want to get back into the Back Woods of Maine? That's certianlly funded through the private sector, and we pay minimual fees to use it tyhroughout the year for Hunting, fishing camping etc. The Private sector seems to keep that road in reasonable shape, and I yet to see a McDonalds anywhere in that country. Thought's?

  29. Country;s going broke ya know. It will never work, They can't even afford the up-keep.

  30. Bill:
    The Golden Road was built on private paper company land. The Cianbro Highway will use the state's eminent domain power to make the road private. If one can believe the Cianbro spokeman it will also take over the recently reconstructed state road from Eustis to Coburn Gore. Your welcome.
    The map of this highway also seems to be very elusive for online viewing. The road will also use public employees to police a private road. All of this for the enrichment of a private corporation.
    If this project is such a money maker it should be done by the State for the enrichment of all.
    This project seems to have all the worst aspects of the transcontinental railroad only on a state level, with most Mainers as either Chinese coolies or Indians.

  31. Bill

    Dont be confused. The Golden Road is a logging Road.What is proposed is a super Highway to move Freight containers. So they say. Some one had said the rail system would accommodate that purpose. It isnt a bad Idea the enviromental impact has already happened.The rail would need some upgrades but that would bring as many or more jobs to the area also. The rail is idealy compatable to container transport. We all know how these projects go they invite you to the dance then once you are there they shut off the music. How many times must we be hoodwinked. What dont they understand about NO. why must they keep on comming back at it .A big NO has been given already but they continue to beat people to death with this nonsense. GIVE US A BREAK!!! Nothing more will come from this project other than a toll road thats it!

  32. This is a Private toll road intended for heavy weight public transport and future pipelines from Canada, across Maine and into Canada. This is not about Maine; this is about Asia and dividing the state in two. It is Cianbro who has coined this a "transportation, communications, and utility corridor". It was originally a regional free trade plan to maximize resource extraction through access to seaports; originally proposed for natural gas expansion. So think tar sands, natural gas and Maine water. If this goes belly up, it will be on the taxpayers shoulders, not the private owner.

    With state involvement private property can be taken for the public good. Depending on how this moves forward, it may be just that the state being involved with the study that will make it for public good.

    Jobs? There have been no feasibility studies, merely speculation; no consideration of jobs lost. As a community visionary, focused on building local economies, I am concerned with business being siphoned away from local communities. I'm also concerned with the possible erosion of farming and logging, and other traditional land-use jobs.

    How would this effect our natural resources? "Gateways" for wildlife is not how our state wildlife exists. We see the impact of urban sprawl when we see Moose on the streets of Portland! The existing paths would be altered permanently. The public would not have input on corridor use. And to date, most of the planning has been done in secrecy. Do we really want transnational companies deciding the direction of our state? That is what is happening with this project.

    I want to protect local economies. Many are working to that end to strengthen our local businesses. A paradigm shift is needed from a corporate mentality to building strong, local foundations that stand the test. Strong local economies built with small businesses mean better health measurements; higher income overall; and lower poverty rate. This highway will not lead us in this direction.

    Check for yourself or and weigh both sides. Or contact info@stopthe

  33. Someone has to mine the aggregates, someone has to produce the asphalt, someone has to produce the steel for the guardrails, someone has to produce the light poles, someone has to build the rest areas and refueling areas, someone has to deliver this tip of the iceburg of products and services needed to engineer, produce, and maintain the road and it's connectors. Someone needs to feed everyone envolved, Someone has to build the trucks and the parts for the trucks and other equipment to do the job and maintain it after. Someone has to supply the wrecker service for peoples trucks and cars that break down building the road and after. That someone could be you and or your children, that may have jobs linked to the highway in some form or fashion. Someone has to baby sit the kids of those that go to work for a living. Those are just a few of the people a job of this size will have a positive effect on, by helping them support themselves through working, instead of having to collect handouts. Unless collecting handouts is the best new way of life, in your view.

  34. MIKE WE DONT WANT IT!!!! PERIOD!!!!! enough of all the bs. Goods will be brought in from a far as it is cheaper, The company has its own labor ,machines etc etc already in place. with other companys from a far ready to go. listen to what people are saying .

  35. Transportation - Utility - Communications

    More information is available at

    •Approximately 220 Miles, 500 ft wide (Calais to Coburn Gore)

    •Avoids Negative Impacts On Communities

    •Maximizes Utilization of Existing Right-of-Ways

    Privately Funded, Owned & Operated. Constructed & Maintained by Maine People & Maine Companies. Policed by Maine Law Enforcement Agencies.

    •Allows Canadian Weight Limits & Tandem Trailers

    •Will NOT Utilize Eminent Domain for Land Acquisition

    •Six Currently Planned Interchanges:
    Calais, I-95, Rt 15, Rt 23, Rt 201, Rt 16/27

  36. Are we building a highway to get more windmill parts further up into the mountains? Where is Quimby when we need her?

  37. Big money always wins....

  38. What irritates me is where this highway would go. I'm all for a new east-west highway-- if it actually connects to destinations... This doesn't This will benefit Canadians only, and do nothing for us while we get the thing built across our state. Seriously, The Route 2 corridor, from Bangor all the way to Vermont or even upstate New York is where something like this belongs. At least here, it serves a dual purpose of shortening routes for Canadians plus getting New Englanders and tourists to and from actual points of interest and population bases. I sincerely hope this project doesn't go through, at least as is.

  39. A super highway from Canada to Canada bringing toxics slicing Maine's wilderness and woodlands. Do we need this? Ah those elusive jobs... really? and yes, we do still have some power as citizens even when private developers have plans to make big bucks, we just have to use that power. Stop, think, feel for the common good, the long-term good.

  40. Not in favor of it, and certainly not on welfare. I think it is a belligerent approach to say "this project is going to happen", and it likely will unless those of us in opposition get organized and have a plan.

    Remember the turnpike? Is the next argument "ambulances will get people to the hospital quicker?

  41. I have just moved to Eustis at the age of seventy. For most of my life, I lived in Ohio and watched a beautiful state turn into a grid of highways and commercial development. If you like looking at concrete and asphalt, you'd love Ohio. If you like urban sprawl and gridlock, you can find plenty of it not just in Ohio but nearly anywhere you wanted to live. I left friends and family because, before I die, I wanted to live in a place that still had trees and two lane highways. Can you imagine my horror when I read that one of the interchanges for the East/West highway would be Eustis. I came a thousand miles to be able to live quietly in the woods and to enjoy the great people who live in the small towns of western Maine. I would hope people would think long and hard before they compromised a way of life other Americans can only dream of.

  42. 500 foot right of way? 100 feet shy of the length of two football fields.Has anyone ever seen an interstate highway that wide? Think hard about that one.

  43. Great! Now I gotta move to Jackman. Maybe all you non tree huggers should move to Ohio where they already cut all the trees and paved every last inch. There are homes and jobs waiting for you there.

  44. Just a note about eminent domain. I know of one case already where individuals have been contacted, by "officials" and informed, or "forwarned" that their land will be on the list of places taken in order to build this highway. Any others out there?