BANGOR (AP) – State highway officials have nearly completed a long-awaited environmental study of a proposed connector route serving motorists and truckers traveling between Bangor and the Canadian Maritimes.

The roughly 10-mile connector would link Interstate 395 with Route 9, the wilderness highway commonly known as The Airline.

The state’s preferred plan includes a nearly two-mile extension of I-395 along the southern side of U.S. 1A Holden. It then turns northward and winds through mostly unpopulated areas until crossing Route 9, circumventing East Eddington and reconnecting to Route 9 at the Eddington-Clifton town line.

The Maine Department of Transportation submitted the plan as its preferred route in April. Four months later, the department requested an Army Corps of Engineers permit to fill in some of the land along the route in order to construct the roadway.

The Army Engineers also are looking at an alternative route that would extend I-395 at its current Wilson Street junction and would roughly follow the Holden-Brewer lines until entering Eddington and connecting with a rebuilt Route 9.

The MDOT’s preferred plan could affect 43.2 acres of 10 different waterways and wetlands and displace two homes; the alternative could affect 48.3 acres of 21 waterways and wetlands and displace 22 homes. The MDOT began work on the environmental assessment in 2000, project manager Raymond Faucher said.

“We’re in the process of reviewing the environmental assessment document,” he said. “There are a couple of items missing. Our objective is, once the document is fulfilled, to print and distribute the document, and we hope to do that sometime in early 2005.”

Once the assessment is complete, a public meeting will be scheduled and public comment will be accepted.

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