I have a vision of the future that connects passenger rail, first to Danville Junction and then on to Montreal. Last year, 4.2 million Canadians visited our state, spending more than $450 million here. Lots of Canadians in metropolitan areas don’t have cars, so passenger rail from Montreal to Maine could bring even more people and revenue to our state.

I consider myself a fiscally conservative Republican and I don’t support every study out there, but this is more than just another study — it is the service development plan to figure out the details to make this project shovel-ready.

And then, when we get passenger rail, the economic benefits will be even more. One of Biddeford’s economic development people told the Sun Journal recently that Biddeford has already seen nearly $200 million in private investments as a result of opening that train station in 2009.

Some will say that Auburn wasn’t part of the conversation in the Legislature, but that is simply not true. I was a co-sponsor of the bill and I stood at a press conference with Lewiston Mayor Bob Macdonald and Rep. Jared Golden and others to support it. Sen. Eric Brakey supported it, too. That wasn’t politics, it was people working together from both parties to do something good for Auburn and for Lewiston.

Auburn could be an international center of commerce again, given our connections to Montreal and Halifax. But we need to attract the necessary state and federal investments in infrastructure to make that happen.

Sometimes you have to give a little to get a lot. This is one of those times.

Rep. Bruce Bickford, R-Auburn

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