NORWAY — Selectmen voted Thursday to join the Androscoggin, Oxford and Coos Counties Rail Coalition, after hearing a presentation by Mia Purcell of Western Maine Economic Development Council and Robin Zinchuk, executive director of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce.

Purcell and Zinchuk spoke of the importance of having all area towns on board in order to continue to secure long-term funding.

Stressing that joining would cost the town nothing but would support a project that eventually could bring economic growth to the area, Purcell cited the big strides made in the past year. They include the Maine Department of Transportation agreeing to set aside $400,000 and Lewiston and Auburn agreeing to put up the state’s requisite $50,000 per town to pay for a service development plan. 

She said the biggest focus is getting passenger rail to Lewiston. 

Ultimately, the coalition wants to get passenger rail from Boston to Montreal. That, however, could be 20 years down the road, they said.

“If those of you who are leaders today can have the vision to support something that may not happen for 20 years … to attract people to live in the community we need this kind of vision,” Zinchuk said. “We need you on board so down the line, you can help support this in Augusta.”

They said Montreal is anxious to have passenger service reinstated.

Town Manager David Holt said the last time there was passenger rail service to Montreal, it was from Brownville, a small town in Piscataquis County.

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