AUBURN — The City Council voted 6-0 Monday night to pay $50,000 toward a passenger rail study.

Councilor Mary LaFontaine was absent. 

The study was approved by the Maine Legislature but requires Lewiston and Auburn to each pay $50,000 for it. An additional $400,000 is being funded by the state budget.

Lewiston councilors voted 5-2 in September to kick in $50,000.

The passenger rail would connect the Twin Cities to Portland and points south.

The purpose of the study is to gauge the potential for economic growth, the effect on residents of Lewiston and Auburn, and the impact on the environment.

“I continue to be supportive,” Councilor Adam Lee said. “This buys us a seat at the table; from here on out, we need to be active.”

Several residents expressed reservations about another study, based on the findings of a similar one in 2010.

Their comments were countered by others who said a lot has changed since then, both in technology and opportunity for growth.

Councilor David Young said the study will be “worth the money. It is a small investment for the taxpayers.”

Before a final decision is made on developing a passenger rail system, all of the pros and cons need to be assessed and a cost-benefit analysis done, some opponents said.

Councilor Tizz Crowley cited the complications of politics on the city funding the study, but in the end, she voted in favor of it.

“I’m concerned we don’t have enough information, but a one-time funding for both a study and the implementation of a plan has me voting in favor,” she said.

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