WASHINGTON — The Section of Environmental Analysis at the Surface Transportation Board issued a draft environmental assessment on the proposed abandonment of 233 miles of rail line in the northern Maine counties of Aroostook and Penobscot.
The draft review found that the abandonment of this line could divert onto Maine’s highways as many as an additional 73,344 truck trips per year, consuming an additional 3.3 million gallons of fuel per year.
However, the draft review, which estimated it would take four trucks to replace every rail car, found that the diversion of rail traffic onto trucks would appear to be “within the level of traffic allowed by area roads.” The draft also recommended steps to reduce the impact of the rail salvage operation that would follow any abandonment.
The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway has asked the Surface Transportation Board to approve the abandonment of the lines because they do not generate enough revenue. The Maine Department of Transportation and congressional representatives have asked the STB to study the impacts of any abandonment and to hear from local shippers and residents.