As Maine looks to expand economic development in the coming years, I hope we will soon bring passenger rail to Lewiston-Auburn.

Most of our local delegation to the state Legislature successfully sponsored a bill directing the Maine Department of Transportation to apply for a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant to pay for an engineering and environmental impact study on extending rail into Androscoggin County. The results of that application are still pending.

A rail corridor extending from Portland into Androscoggin County would bring more people, more commerce and more jobs to this region. It could also set the stage to link our cities to other points in Northern New England and even, eventually, Canada.

The early success of the Downeaster, especially the new branch between Portland and Brunswick, is a good sign for rail in Maine, and there’s no reason we can’t replicate that success here in L-A.

The state of Maine owns the railway between Portland and Auburn. We already have tracks for freight lines laid out, with an intermodal freight transfer facility in Auburn that would make upgrades and additions for passenger rail service easier to accomplish.

As a member of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I know that effective economic growth requires a diverse, modern and safe infrastructure. Building passenger rail here in Lewiston-Auburn connecting us to the rest of Maine and New England is a key part of achieving that goal.

I hope the public will join me in supporting that important effort.

Rep. Wayne Werts, Auburn

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