Room 126 of the State House was packed for the Joint Transportation Committee’s public hearing on LD 323 — Lewiston Rep. Jared Golden’s bill requesting funding to complete a study concerning a long-proposed passenger rail link between Portland and Lewiston-Auburn.

Rep. Golden explained the bill, then the chorus of bipartisan support ensued. Rep. Peggy Rotundo, Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald, Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce president Chip Morrison, Bonnie Zinchuk of the Bethel C.O.C, longtime Lewiston resident Richard Grandmaison, Lewiston City Council members, a representative from Mt. Abram Resort, Oxford County, and Maine Sierra Club’s director Glen Brand all voiced their support for passenger rail service to Lewiston-Auburn and beyond. There was no opposition.

Most impressive were the informed testimonies of Lewiston Attorney Martin Eisenstein, chairman of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, and Tony Donovan of the Maine Rail Transit Coalition. Both were instrumental in bringing passenger rail service to Portland, Freeport and Brunswick, and each pointed out that extending passenger rail service to Lewiston-Auburn, and eventually Montreal, has been part of the overall plan since its inception.

After decades of decline, the greater Lewiston-Auburn area is moving forward. Positive economic and social developments are happening at an ever faster pace.

Now, more than ever, Lewiston and Auburn deserve this boost to our economy and our overall civic pride.

I hope that citizens from all over Androscoggin and Oxford counties will also voice their support for passenger rail service to Lewiston-Auburn and beyond.

Bruce Noddin, Lewiston

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