Judge denies motion seeking to halt bridge construction

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BANGOR (AP) – A federal judge has put the brakes on a Washington County group’s efforts to halt construction of a new $120 million bridge connecting Calais to Canada.

In a 22-page ruling, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock on Wednesday denied a motion by the Friends of Magurrewock seeking to restart the siting process for the bridge. The ruling followed a hearing that was held in June.

Woodcock said the group did not prove that the decision to put the bridge in Calais, rather than nearby Baileyville, was arbitrary or capricious, the standard that was required for the group to succeed.

His ruling makes it difficult for the Friends’ lawsuit to succeed, said Lynne Williams, a Bar Harbor attorney who represents the group. She said a decision has yet to be made on whether to continue with the suit.

“We’re disappointed, obviously, although not totally surprised,” she said.

The lawsuit was filed in April, after construction on the new bridge had begun. The bridge connects Calais with St. Stephen, New Brunswick, and is scheduled to open in 2008.

The Friends of Magurrewock said it was concerned about the bridge because of the increased traffic that would pass from the new bridge onto Route 1 through the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, which is the home to nesting eagles.

Traffic from two other Calais-area bridges connecting to Canada already passes through the refuge, and the group argued that traffic from a third bridge would necessitate widening Route 1.

The group said the Army Corps of Engineers should have conducted an environmental impact study rather than accepting the state Transportation Department’s contention that Route 1 would not have to be widened before 2030 to accommodate extra traffic.

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