PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Coming off the completion of the Brunswick to Boston Downeaster service, the Maine Rail Transit Coalition presented a proposal to expand rail service throughout the state, creating a Portland to Auburn train.
At a forum at USM, the MRTC recommended $118 million in upgrades to the St. Lawrence and Atlantic line between India Street in Portland and the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport in Auburn.
The MRTC report favors repairs to the existing infrastructure because the state already owns the line.
"You have these bones, this fabric, within Portland and Lewiston to make transit rail successful for you," said keynote speaker Lee Sobel, a consultant from the US EPA Office of Sustainable Communities.
Critics of the plan said the stop at the Auburn airport is too far away from the downtown area.
"Where it is out at the airport, does not even come close to being a walk-able community," said Lewiston Planning Board Chair Bruce Damon.
MRTC spokesman Tony Donovan said Lewiston Auburn officials could create services to link the airport stop to the downtown.
"Our comprehensive job is to prove that rail can be expanded in the state of Maine," said Donovan. "This is all local decision making. [The communities] have to decide how to make that work."