Cianbro manager: East-west highway is 'going to happen'

FARMINGTON — It may take another 10 years, but a 220-mile highway from Coburn Gore to Calais is going to be built, Darryl Brown of Cianbro construction company said Tuesday.

"It's been talked about since 1937 but it's going to happen," Brown, of Livermore Falls, told those at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce business breakfast at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Brown, formerly of Main-Land Development Consultants, recently joined Cianbro as manager of the $2.1 billion project for company president and CEO Peter Vigue.

Supporters foresee the potential of shipping containers from around the world destined for Eastport, then transported across Maine and Canada to markets in Chicago and beyond, Brown said.

"We know container traffic is expected to increase three-fold, and existing ports can't handle them. But we have the deep water," he said of the potential to lure tanker traffic to Eastport.

The Panama and Suez canals are currently being widened and deepened to handle tanker ships hauling containers globally, a mode of transportation expected to triple by 2024. Plans for a container tanker dock at Portland were recently announced, he said.

While direct studies of the potential for bringing cargo ships to Eastport have not been done, east-west highway advocates are thinking 10 years out, he said.

It's about Maine and Maine's economy, Brown said, while reviewing statistics. He cited Forbes magazine's listing of best states for business, which places Maine at 50th. He said Maine is also ranked 48th for non-farm employment growth, 36th for poverty level and has a median age that is the oldest in the nation.

"Maine's largest export is not potatoes, blueberries or wood, it's our young people looking for meaningful employment," Brown said. "If we don't step up to the plate and not allow the state to become a playground for the wealthy, shame on us."

New England may be the end of the road and "we're just up here in the woods," Brown said, but Eastport has the deepest water in the continental United States with a capacity to handle the larger tankers.

The toll highway would be open to all modes of travel, not just truckers, he said. The highway would pay taxes within in each town it crosses, contract with state police for patrol and not have the ability to take property by eminent domain, Brown said.

Construction would be done by Maine people and companies, Brown said.

Cianbro, based in Pittsfield, has thousands of employees at job sites across the United States, according to its website.

Lining up private funders for the east-west highway is under way, Brown said, and route designs are expected to be finished by the end of this year. Planners anticipate three years to get permits and handle any lawsuits, and another three years for construction, with completion in nine to 10 years, he said.

The plan also includes an all-purpose, recreational trail across the state for snowmobilers, all-terrain vehicles, hikers and bikers.

More information is available at

Ann Bryant, Sun Journal

Darryl Brown of Livermore Falls, project manager for Cianbro's proposed $2.1 billion east-west highway in Maine, presents the plan at a Franklin County Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday at the University of Maine at Farmington.

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 's picture

Seems to me that this is just

Seems to me that this is just another part of the Trans-Texas corridor otherwise known as the NAFTA superhighway


Sounds great, but once in

Sounds great, but once in Coburn Gore what kind of roads are going to be found to continue on to Chicago etc.? As I remember the area all that was there were small two lane country roads. Better to route traffic to Bangor and take the Maine pike South to eventually take I-90.

Bob White's picture

I just dont understand. If

I just dont understand. If somebody wanted to put in a gold making machine and give everybody gold somebody would find something wrong with it.( gee the gold is to heavy) If somebody is going to fund this project and its not going to cost us anything other then useing it who cares. I know you tree hugers are going to cry OMG the destruction give me a break its going to be a 500 foot wide row through the woods. Trust me the wild life will adapt they have been way before the do goodiers showed up. Isnt it been the strong survive?

 's picture

1937 nightmare lives on

it's almost as if there's a tombstone every mile for the rationale for the East-West Highway.

Lindsay Newland  Bowker's picture

The Sleeping Dragon

Darryl Brown et al. seem not very well informed on Maine Ports post panama. In fact as all global transportation experts know and are preparing for it very bad news for most U.S. ports, especially ours in the northeast. This is about high volume and consolidation. Ports like ours need to reconfigure and reposition themselves to be able to moves essentials goods amd product in and out of New England.

And then there's Peter Vigue representing that Canada has a big interest in this only to find out through award winning journalist Colin Woodards investigative reporting, no one in the Quebec Government even recalls meeting with Vigue and his plan is inconsistent with the rural character the province is preserving for that area.See Sleeping Dragon at for more links and analysis.

Why is this rearising? It's the corridor aspect. It's John Irving's partnership with TransCanada to bring Tras Sands dilbit ( the gooey stuff) east from Alberta to his refinery in St. Johns which did just get a stamp of approval from Ottawa...It's the fact there is a potential $1.2 billion in earnings from leasing to two or three landholders along the route.

But we the people hold the keys in the incovenient middle bit which is not in private ownership. We own the rivers and the public roads they need to cross over, use or interface with. We the people made it very very very clear we don't want this road.We made it a poison pill before the last elections fro a politician to even mention support for this. Nothing has changed except we now have better representation in the legislature.

Slay this dragon once and for all. Repeal Title 23 Section 4251 which Cianbro John Melrose and Maria Fuentes wrote for highway privatization in 2010 and got secretly passed with a late session bit of nonsense from Dennis Daimon. Write to the transportation Committee, write to your reps and deamnd repeal of Title 23 Section 2351.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Cianbro manager: east-west highway is 'going to happen'

Mainers, 13.02.19 21:00
Rt. 2 , eh ? ' Bout time . ...
" He said Maine is also ranked 48th for non-farm employment growth, 36th for poverty level and has a median age that is the oldest in the nation. "
Oldest ? Hmm . . .i thought HI held that distinction . We live the - l o n g e s t - he'ya , . Japanese - American Hawai'ians are always walking . We are #2 in crystal meth use ( ice ) behind Missouri , the " Show Me " state
Poverty ? My guess would be that we are somewhat poorer than you but richer than New Hamster [sic.] . We both run on tourism
We are neck - and - neck when it comes to poor business environments ( last and second - to - last ) . This i know because my daughter runs her own business on Ma'ui
Green jobs are where it's at right now ? " Eastport has the deepest water in the continental United States with a capacity to handle the larger tankers. " L N G and L P N G burn clean • We use geothermal for power plants
h t h ?  /s Steve , Alo'ha from Pahoa

Bob Berry's picture

Great project

Call me biased, but this will be a great project. The naysayers are concerned about the environment, but folks, Maine has roads. Another road, paid for by private funding, privately owned, and TAXED as private property, it's a win all around. This project can be designed and built within environmental standards, and will be permitted as such. Good for them, and good for Maine.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Bob ? umm. . a turn - pike ?

Bob ?
umm. . a turn - pike ? Probably not • Do you want this road or not ? Eminent domain makes imminent sense
This is the 21st century • h t h ? Steve


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