A recent $15,000 grant from the National Association of Realtors will fund a study exploring the viability of passenger rail service between Portland and Auburn.
The grant recipient, the Maine Commercial Association of Realtors, will work with the Maine Rail Transit Coalition and regional town offices to determine how such a service might improve housing and business development while creating jobs and ensuring environmental sustainability, according to a press release from MCAR.
The benefits of alternative models of transportation in Maine have already been extensively explored by the Maine DOT and U.S. Federal Transportation Administration as part of the 2011 Portland North Alternative Modes Project, according to the release.
MCAR seeks to make the most of this research and funding -- Maine is eligible for up to $75 million in transit infrastructure grants -- by ensuring that the transportation alternatives addressed in the 2011 report are implemented.
"Too often, national transportation policies direct state and local decision-making without fully considering the impacts on consumers or communities. The Portland North study identified significant benefits of investing in regional rail infrastructure, and MCAR is working to make certain we use those benefits to wholly support Maine's communities, stimulate local economies and minimize the costs of growth," says Tony Donovan, MCAR Board member and founder of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition.
MCAR will initially use the funds to identify key stakeholders, do research and estimate cost before drafting a comprehensive plan for land-use surrounding the state-owned St. Lawrence Atlantic Railway between Portland and Auburn to be presented to local, state and federal agencies, according to the release.