The new Central Maine and Quebec Railway is looking at the possibility of transporting crude oil on the former Montreal Maine and Atlantic Railroad line, and wants to build a nine-mile bypass route around Lac-Megantic that would cost between $50 million to $80 million.

That is a bad investment because a competitor wants to build an all-Canada pipeline between the tar sands of Western Canada and the Irving refinery — bypassing the state of Maine. That pipeline might also be used to transport crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in the Midwest.

Most people in Maine like that idea a lot better than freight trains transporting highly flammable oil through the state.

The Central Maine and Quebec Railway could still improve the economy of Lac-Megantic by saving the 50-plus miles of track to Sherbrooke, converting the former main line to a branch line, since most of the businesses are located alongside the Canadian segment.

The 100-plus miles of main line from Lac-Megantic to Brownville Junction, Maine, have little or no major industries, so keeping that U.S. segment open could cost the state (and possibly the U.S. government) upward of $50 million a year.

That money would be better spent on upgrading the longer (but more viable) Pan Am rails between Portland and Mattawamkeg, since most of the international freight train traffic travels from St. John, New Brunswick, and the major population centers of North America, on Pan Am rails.

Michael Ballard, Auburn

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