Group Meets at WCCC to Stop East-West Corridor

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

Last Wednesday at Washing County Community College the group Stop the East-West Corridor held a community meeting about what the East-West Corridor would mean to Calais and other communities like it. The meeting and the group goal is to inform people about the East-West corridor and what they feel are the downfalls of the corridor plan. 

The group that presented in Calais consisted of four members of the larger group. All four of the representatives spoke on different topics concerning the corridor. The topics consisted of the economic impact, the environmental impact, loss of rights, and the fact that the corridor is just not feasible. 

The group was formed in early 2012 and according to Chris Buchanan “our mission is to stop the East-West Corridor by showing the people of Maine our concerns about it and that it is not in Maine’s best interests.”

 The group argued that the corridor wasn’t in the best interests of Maine especially the small communities in Maine. They cited a study done in 1999 on the same issue just not this particular proposal. The study, paid for by Maine tax dollars, showed that having a highway similar to the one Cianbro is proposing would harm the communities in Maine and that Washington County would be hit the hardest.

According to the group and the study a highway like the proposed East-West highway would not bring the business to Washington County it claims. According to Gene Ripley of the Stop the East-West Corridor group, Washington County would suffer what is known as the bypass effect in which the highway would carry all the traffic away from Calais and toward the cities like Bangor. Ripley shared the 1999 study’s findings that a highway like this would significantly reduce the traffic on Route 1 and eliminate it on Route 9 almost entirely. The 1999 study went on to suggest that best way to improve East to West Transportation was to improve the existing roads, a project which is already underway. 

The other major concern raised by the group was the loss of rights. If a project like this were to go through the citizens of the towns the corridor would pass through would lose some of their rights. According to Paul Shreader the law as it stands now would allow for any of the land needed for the project to be taken by eminent domain. Shreader encouraged attendees to ask their officials for Rights based ordinances that would protect the citizens of their town.

The group entertained questions for attendees about what the East-West Corridor would mean for Washington County and Maine as a whole. The group also answered questions about how people can get involved in the group and learn more about their work. 

While the exact route of the East-West Corridor is unclear it is proposed to start in Calais, loop to Eastport and cross the state to Coburn Gore. The group maintains that no matter what the exact route ends up being the cost of having the corridor far outweighs the proposed benefits of it. 

To learn more about what the Stop the East-West Corridor group does you can visit their website at wwww.stopthecorridor.org