LEWISTON — State rail planners are making the rounds this month to find out what different areas of Maine expect of the system.

“Every area of Maine has their own needs based on what they already have,” said Carol Morris, spokesperson for the Maine State Rail Plan. “In Portland, they’re concerned about passenger rail. In Presque Isle, the concern is freight.”

Members of the committee hope to find out what the concerns are in Lewiston-Auburn at a meeting at the Lewiston Public Library on Oct. 22. Representatives from a Maine Department of Transportation study group will meet with Twin Cities residents to discuss the future of rail in Maine.

State legislators have earmarked $4 million in bonds for rail investment statewide, and Morris said federal money could be available as well.

The group met with residents in Portland and Bangor last week and Presque Isle on Tuesday. They hope to present some recommendations in November.

“Most agree that rail will be an important part of transportation in the future, and there needs to be some investment,” she said. “The question is, how should it be spent.”

One goal of the study will be balancing the need for public transportation with that for freight, she said.

“There’s a big desire for passenger rail, but Maine is such a rural state it could be very expensive,” she said. “Even in Presque Isle, where the big concern is continuing private freight lines, they want passenger service.”

Much of the study will focus on the rail corridor north of Portland. Coastal Maine rail backers would like to see Portland traffic continue to the east, while Lewiston-Auburn organizers want to see development through the state’s Western mountains and on toward Canada.

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