Railway Plan Delays Efforts To Create Bike Trail In Maine

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation and a railway company could delay community efforts to create a multi-purpose trail between a 25-mile stretch of railroad connecting Portland and Auburn.

The state wants to extend an abandonment agreement it has with the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railroad to use the railroad line for transportation. The stretch of track is a key location that is in a plan to link cities and towns in part of a loop-like trail, The Portland Press Herald reported.

Richard Woodbury, a leader with the Casco Bay Trail Alliance, said the Maine DOT allowed permissions for the bike trail to move forward.

But Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note said the department has to keep future options for the land open, including potentially extending an abandoned agreement.

The updated agreement with the state and the railway company provides an escape clause that allows the DOT to request the railway company to give up its operating rights within 90 days.

Department spokesperson Paul Merrill said this clause would preserve the option to make the land into a trail.