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STB moves ahead with public hearing on MMA's proposed abandonment


Earlier this year, the state of Maine and Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. (MMA) asked the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to extend its procedural schedule for the railroad’s line abandonment application. The state and MMA wanted to negotiate a resolution to the railroad’s plan to abandon 233 miles of track in Aroostook and Penobscot counties, and Maine's efforts to acquire the line and preserve rail service. But five days ago, the state and MMA notified the STB that their negotiations are at an impasse, so the board will proceed with plans to hold a public hearing on the case.

The hearing — which originally was scheduled for May 10 — will be held July 7 in Presque Isle, Maine. The STB “must balance MMA's interests against the public interest of facilitating continued rail service,” board members said in a prepared statement.

Offers of financial assistance to either purchase the line or subsidize continued service are due July 19, but the start of the offer process might be postponed pending the board's final decision, according to the STB.

In February, MMA filed the application with the STB. The state, which opposed the abandonment, then sought funds — partially through a bond referendum that recently was approved by voters — to acquire the line and preserve service if the board grants the application.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/23/2010