PaperAge Magazine

Major Upgrade of 75 Miles of Rail Will Serve Maine's Resurgent Paper Industry

Pan Am Railways Pan Am Railways is matching a $17.5 million federal grant in the $35.5 million project to upgrade its main line in southern and central Maine.

By Peter McGuire, Staff Writer, Portland Press Herald

July 12, 2019 (Portland Press Herald) - A nearly $36 million railway upgrade is planned to improve performance of a critical line in Maine and serve the state's resurgent pulp and paper industry.

The Federal Railway Administration will cover about half of the $35.5 million being spent to replace aging rails, renovate road crossings, improve safety and fix bridges on a 75-mile stretch of line between North Yarmouth and Waterville owned by Pan Am Railways. The company, based in Billerica, Massachusetts, will match federal funds with its own investment. The Maine Department of Transportation will contribute about $568,000 to the project, which is expected to get underway next year.

“We've been talking about this for a long time,” said Nate Moulton, director of freight and business services at the Maine Department of Transportation. “When this opportunity, these funds became available, it was a good fit for the project.”

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine chairs the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee that awarded the $17.5 million federal grant last month. She and independent Sen. Angus King had sent a letter in September 2018 supporting the transportation department's application.

“Enhancing the rail connection between manufacturers and the forest products industry and their markets can create a competitive advantage for Maine, helping to create jobs in rural parts of our state,” Collins said in a news release when the funding was announced.

The improvements are equal parts safety and economic development. The pavement on at-grade railroad crossings is in poor shape and signals to warn drivers a train is coming are functional, but out of date.

Most of the funding is directed to improve the line to serve expected freight increases as paper mills ramp up production. Pan Am will install 37 miles of continuously welded line, upgrade mainline switches and track signals, and extend a rail siding in New Gloucester so larger trains can pass one another . . .

The full story is available on the Portland Press Herald's website:
» Major Upgrade of 75 Miles of Rail Will Serve Maine's Resurgent Paper Industry

SOURCE: Portland Press Herald