Maine bond issue wins 1st round


AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — A borrowing package that includes bonds to preserve a railroad that’s seen as an industrial lifeline to northern Maine has won the first round of legislative votes.

As lawmakers worked toward the 2010 session’s end, the House voted 94-53 Wednesday in favor of an $85 million bond package. The bill faces further House and Senate votes and needs a two-thirds majority in the final tally to be sent to voters.

The bond package includes funds for highways, wind power, water purification and other projects. But most prominent in Wednesday’s debate was $27 million for railroads, most of which would buy and preserve 233 miles of railroad track that’s being abandoned in Aroostook County.

Supporters say the rail is crucial to Aroostook’s potato and forest-products industries, but opponents say this is the wrong time for the state to take on more debt.