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February 15, 2012 | last updated February 17, 2012 11:06 am

Bill revives east-west highway project

A proposal to build an east-west highway in Maine is once again gaining attention. Sen. Doug Thomas, R-Ripley, has sponsored a bill supporting a $300,000 feasibility study for the 230-mile route.

Lawmakers in support of the highway, estimated to cost between $1 billion and $2 billion, said the study could be used to attract private investors to fund the project, according to MaineToday Media. Peter Vigue, CEO of Pittsfield-based Cianbro Corp., has promoted the project for years and yesterday spoke to the Legislature's Transportation Committee about why the highway is needed. In 2008, Vigue told Mainebiz he envisioned a transportation and utility corridor that would drive economic growth and also support the state's railroads and ports. The proposed highway would run from Calais to Coburn Gore.

A group opposed to the proposal, Defending Water for Life in Maine, said the state should not use public money to study a private toll highway, while others supported boosting rail infrastructure as an alternative. Maine Audubon said the project would also impact wildlife. The Transportation Committee is scheduled to hold a work session on LD 1671 on Thursday.

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