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Stimulus funding has led to the creation of at least 40 new jobs connected with Maine’s Downeaster project, according to today’s edition of “Fastlane,” a blog penned by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Supported by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, the Downeaster project involves extending Amtrak service 30 miles north from Portland to Brunswick, Maine. Work includes rehabilitation of rail and ties and ballast, upgrades to crossings and signals, and construction of passenger platforms in Freeport and Brunswick. “All the work that’s being done to our equipment, upgrading it with new parts, getting it ready to perform its duties, that’s all been part of the Recovery Act,” Pan Am Railway’s John Tracey said in a “Voices of The Recovery Act” video that accompanies LaHood’s blog. “These jobs created by the Recovery Act are good paying jobs, jobs with good benefits and a living wage.” If it weren’t for the ARRA funds, the 40 workers probably wouldn’t have been hired this year, Tracey added. Earlier this year, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority received $35 million in high-speed stimulus funds to replace 28 miles of jointed rail with continuous-welded rail, improve 36 grade crossings, upgrade signals and build passenger platforms in Freeport and Brunswick.