SEARSPORT (AP) – Maine state government is taking steps to develop a cargo port at Sears Island in Penobscot Bay.

The Transportation Department plans to spend up to $100,000 to hire a consultant to help develop a container port on the island. The consultant would help design a marketing package to attract developers for the Penobscot Bay shipping port.

The move follows action by Gov. John Baldacci and the Legislature that divides Sears Island into two parts: 330 acres for a new port and 601 acres that will be protected from development.

Supporters say the port will create jobs and bolster the regional economy. Critics have gone to court to challenge the state’s action setting aside part of the island for port development.

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