Study for East-West Highway

Discussion of present-day CM&Q operations, as well as discussion of predecessors Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) and Bangor & Aroostook Railroad (BAR).

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Study for East-West Highway

Postby Dick H » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:28 am

"Legislation would require the state to finance a feasibility study that may be used to attract investors for the long-discussed highway."

If this highway gets built, it will further diminish rail freight traffic in Northern Maine
and put the MM&A out of business. While the proposal is for a private toll road, you
can bet that there will be some sort of guarantee by the State, if the tolls don't pay
for the construction and operation of the road. Full story here:

http://www.pressherald.com/news/this-ti ... 02-15.html
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Re: Study for East-West Highway

Postby CN9634 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:33 am

Not true. In fact, an East-West highway may increase traffic on the MMA. You see, railroads compete with highways mostly. You notice how most of the larger rail lines parallel a large highway system. The Crescent Corridor on NS for example competes directly with I-81 and I-95. Now you ask, how does a highway increase rail business?

Well, once you establish this highway you create opportunity for new business. Think about the products that ship by rail and ones that ship by truck. Each rail car is essentially about 3 truck loads. So let's say after the construction of this highway, you create 100 new truckloads in the first year (Estimated figure). So now you have roughly 30 carloads worth of rail traffic that you can compete for.

As for the products currently going by rail -- yes you could lose some to an East-West highway, but like I said, look at the traffic. It would be extremely expensive to switch to truck for a lot of these products flowing across the Moosehead. I could see instances where there was overflow or something else where they may truck a load here or there, but in reality it won't make much difference.

Also in terms of business, you create an economic vein that is needed to create business growth. Remember, there are many businesses out there who are too small or don't require large car loads. Enabling these businesses to grow may one day put them in a position where they will ship by rail. Think long term strategy here.
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Re: Study for East-West Highway

Postby Dick H » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:25 pm

You have some good points. However, comparing the proposed I-92 with I-95
and I-81 seems to me to be quite a stretch. One of the reasons that I-95 and
I-81 are adding freight traffic to the rails is highway congestion. Presumably,
I-92 would be a four lane divided highway running mostly through wilderness
and rural areas, with moderate traffic at most.

Any new toll road is unlikely to succeed in the current mindset of the country of
never pay for anything. Almost no politician today dares to even mention raising
the gasoline tax to help pay maintain the highways we have. Perhaps you are
familiar with Interstate #93 in NH. It is has been a four lane highly congested
highway for decades. There have been a few sections expanded and upgraded,
but the residents of South Central NH have clamorered for years to expand the
highway to eight lanes. Just a few days ago, the NHDOT raised the possibility of
either increased tolls on existing toll highways, tolls on I-93 or an increase in the
gas tax or a combination of all three to pay the $250 million cost. The Speaker
of the NH House and President of the Senate quickly shot this down. Just last
year, these same political bodies cut the NH vehicle annul registration fee by $30,
which cut the DOT budget by $40 million. State highway maintenance has been
cut back to cover the shortfall and there will be few new projects, unless Uncle
Sam comes through. NH might not even have the required matching funds, as
the Legislature has been endling non-highway federal progams and funding to the
state, if any state matching funds are required.

I should note that I do not see this highway being built for a decade, if ever. Few
towns on the route will want the road in their backyard. There was a proposal about
30 years ago to build a toll road from Dover to Concord NH. Every town on the route,
said "not in my back yard" and the proposal was deep sixed. Today's environmental
requirements are much more strengent that when most of the Interstates were built.
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Re: Study for East-West Highway

Postby Cowford » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:54 am

CN9634: For your theory to be true, the following equation would have to be true:

Future number of railroad carloads on MMA and CN (over the top) >/= Present number of railroad carloads on MMA and CN - existing carload equivalents diverted to EW highway + new carload equivalents generated by EW highway-related industrial development - truck market share (in carload equivalents) of EW highway-related industrial development.

In other words, and you mentioned this, the only way ANY rail benefit would come of this is through economic growth/industrial development... that is rail-oriented... and a lot of it, because diversions of current traffic would occur. I also have to assume that, while development might pop-up in Maine, all or most of the economic development would be Canadian-oriented, correct? Would you share just what businesses would development along this highway corridor?
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Re: Study for East-West Highway

Postby gpp111 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 8:02 pm

An East-West across central Maine highway has been a concept for quite some time. However, with the incredible cost of highways, such a road from nowhere to nowhere, it would be difficult to find the billions in funding due to the economic situation. Senator Byrd successfully put highways across West Virginia, but at that time, we didnt have this huge budget deficit and he had enough seniority to get what he wanted.

Tolls can not pay for such a road, since the light traffic will not pay much. I dont think anyone will want to pay for a highway to Canada either.

I think this project will remain on the drawing boards, but this is just my opinion.

I do agree that privately owned roadways, or even public roadways, can be funded using tolls, but you have to have enough potential traffic. This route simply is lacking.
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Re: Study for East-West Highway

Postby Dick H » Thu May 03, 2012 10:05 pm

"What's Driving the East-West Highway"

Long 4 page Article on the Project from the Portland Phoenix 5/2/12

http://portland.thephoenix.com/news/137 ... t-highway/
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Re: Study for East-West Highway

Postby markhb » Mon May 28, 2012 3:11 pm

Article on the East-West highway from the Maine Sunday Telegram. Fair Use quote chosen for railroad topicality.

"I think people are going to have to look at this very carefully and not just throw money at it," said Bob Grindrod, president of the Hermon-based Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, which runs three round-trip freight trains each week between Montreal and Brownville Junction in Piscataquis County, where they're met by Irving-owned trains bound to and from the port of Saint John, New Brunswick.

"You have to look and ask what wants to move in or out of the Maritimes. If there isn't enough volume to pay the tolls, you'd end up with a bankrupt road."
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Re: Study for East-West Highway

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:55 pm

markhb wrote:Article on the East-West highway from the Maine Sunday Telegram. Fair Use quote chosen for railroad topicality.

"I think people are going to have to look at this very carefully and not just throw money at it," said Bob Grindrod, president of the Hermon-based Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, which runs three round-trip freight trains each week between Montreal and Brownville Junction in Piscataquis County, where they're met by Irving-owned trains bound to and from the port of Saint John, New Brunswick.

"You have to look and ask what wants to move in or out of the Maritimes. If there isn't enough volume to pay the tolls, you'd end up with a bankrupt road."

Notice he doesn't say which 'road would be bankrupt.
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