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A proposal to extend passenger rail service to Lewiston and Auburn isn’t exactly on the fast track, but it is chugging along after lawmakers this week backed further study of the idea.
The $180,000 proposal would build on a 2019 study of rail options between Portland and the state’s second largest metropolitan area to require the state Department of Transportation to provide “an economic evaluation of commuter and passenger rail service” on the route by next March.
Proponents hope that with a solid plan in place, the state may be able to grab a chunk of cash from President Joe Biden’s $80 billion initiative to bolster rail travel across the country, which has yet to win congressional approval.
“The station in Lewiston is still there,” with many residents living nearby and Central Maine Medical Center and Bates College within walking distance, said Lewiston resident Richard Grandmaison. “Lewiston is ready for passenger rail.”
Officials in Lewiston and Auburn are almost uniformly on board with the idea of restoring passenger rail between the Twin Cities and Portland for the first time in more than 60 years.
“The time and money invested in discovering what the true economic benefits would be to Central and Southern Maine is well spent and will give us the direction needed to either move forward with confidence or shelve this idea until situations change,” Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque told legislators recently.
This article first appeared on www.pressherald.com
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