A project got under way last week that aims to re-establish freight-rail service to the city of Auburn and town of Poland, Maine.
The Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, city of Auburn, Lewiston and Auburn Railroad Co. (LARC) and St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad Co. (SLR) worked closely with members of a Lewiston/Auburn area delegation to secure $3 million in general obligation bond funds to reconstruct the former Rangeley Branch rail line running from Auburn to Poland.
The project calls for restoring about 6,600 linear feet of the former line between a LARC line and an existing SLR siding; building about 400 linear feet of new track for a spur line leading from the midpoint of the mainline to an abutting commercial property; and adding 1,500 linear feet of double-ended siding.
The line will help alleviate congestion on an existing mainline serving the Maine Intermodal Transportation Facility, providing an alternate route for waiting trains that will be assembled and/or disassembled. In addition, the line will provide existing and future industrial facilities in the area with rail service.
"After working on this project for over 10 years, to see the re-establishment of this rail line serves as welcomed news due to the long-term strategic transportation benefits for the state of Maine," said Bob Thompson, executive director of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, in a press release. "The implementation of this project to open hundreds of acres for rail-related development is a major step towards attracting businesses, creating jobs and facilitating strong economic development opportunities for many years to come."
The Androscoggin council sought bids for the project in November 2012 and awarded the contract to Gendron & Gendron Inc. in February 2013. Construction of the project's first phase is slated for completion in November.
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