Maine Lawmakers Pass Speed Limit Increase, East-West Highway Likely Dead

May 8, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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Lawmakers in Maine have given final passage to a bill allowing speed limits to increase along Maine’s interstates, but are moving to pull the plug on a study to determine the feasibility of an east-west highway.

It’s now up to Gov. Paul LaPage to sign the measure allowing an increase to 75 miles per hour along routes where the speed limit is currently 65.

Rather than automatically increasing the limit, it leaves the decision up to the state transportation department to determine if a hike can be safely made.

There is no indication if the governor will sign the bill or not.

Meantime, a legislative committee has voted to repeal a requirement the state transportation department conduct a study about building a privately-owned east to west highway in the state.

Last year the governor signed legislation authorizing $300,000 to be spent to determine the feasibility of building the more than $2 billion route from Calais to Coburn Gore. Supporters of the route say it would improve the state’s economy and would provide a badly needed route. Opponents, which include business owners to environmentalists, are against it for a variety of reasons.

A non-scientific poll by the Bangor Daily News shows nearly 60% of people surveyed are against building the route. 

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