AUGUSTA – Railroading may be making a comeback in Maine.

Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill Tuesday that directs the Department of Transportation to look at the cost of extending rail service from Portland to Fryeburg, and report back to the Legislature at the beginning of next year.

The service is initially designed for hauling cargo, but could be converted to a passenger rail as well, said Gregory Nadeau, a deputy commissioner with the Department of Transportation.

Dubbed the Mountain Division Rail Corridor, it starts in Portland and snakes north and west through Westbrook, Windham, Standish, Baldwin, Hiram, Brownfield, Denmark and Fryeburg to the New Hampshire border.

Baldacci said it is a fuel efficient way to move the equivalent of 25,000 truck trips onto freight rail, relieving state highways of that burden. Most of it is construction material, Nadeau said.

Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, the bill’s sponsor, said, “If we don’t better use freight rail we are going to further get behind.”

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