Vive Le Canada

SPP Atlantica Multimodal Trade Corridors - New England & I-95
Date: Friday, April 11 2008
Topic:





... a comprehensive review of northern New England´s transportation

routes is under way. The Northeast CanAm Connections project is

looking at both adequacy and opportunity in highway, rail, air and

marine infrastructure, said Fred Michaud of the Maine Department of

Transportation, sponsor of the project."We need to fill the `hollow

middle´ between Maritime Canada and the Great Lakes if we want to

compete in the global economy, which is huge," said Michaud.

"The objective will be to establish the feasibility of a new multi-

modal east-west Trade Corridor with seamless intermodal and

international connections."  [Continued below]





Hope glimmers for regional east-west highway



By Elizabeth Penney



Friday, February 15, 2008



After 20 years of sporadic study regarding a potential east-west

regional highway linking northern Maine with Montreal, a

comprehensive review of northern New England´s transportation routes

is under way.



The Northeast CanAm Connections project is looking at both adequacy

and opportunity in highway, rail, air and marine infrastructure, said

Fred Michaud of the Maine Department of Transportation, sponsor of

the project.



"We need to fill the `hollow middle´ between Maritime Canada and the

Great Lakes if we want to compete in the global economy, which is

huge," said Michaud. The engineering and planning firm of Wilbur

Smith Associates, which has an office in Portland, Maine, and the

Boston-based Economic Development Research Group began the study in

2006, with completion projected for mid-2008.



With regional transportation needs and opportunities analyzed, the

team is now identifying strategic directions. As the work plan

states, "The objective will be to establish the feasibility of a new

multi-modal east-west Trade Corridor with seamless intermodal and

international connections."



The region under study covers a huge stretch essentially linking Nova Scotia to Montreal, with Maine, northern New Hampshire, northern

Vermont and northern New York state in-between.

Intermodal freight transport - the transportation of sealed,

standardized freight containers via sea, rail and truck - is seen as

the future of the shipping industry. Indeed, container traffic is

forecast to double by 2020. (Port capacity is now measured in

container movements, with one container defined as a 20-foot

equivalent unit, or TEU. Truck and rail connections are necessary to

move the containers from dock to destination.)



The initial phase of the study revealed gaps in roads, rail and air

in the region. "We have five interstate highways in the region, but

they go north-south," Michaud said. "We need to become a crossroads

for east-west, north-south trade flows. Enhanced transportation is

vital for intermodal shipment."



Private efforts

In the Northeast, freight arriving at ports is concentrated in New

York and points south, with some activity in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Truck routes skirt the region north through Canada or east from New

York to Chicago and Ontario.



Michaud would like to see development of the deep water ports in

Searsport, Maine, and Halifax. "Ports on the West Coast are backed

up. New York is congested. With increased ship traffic through the

Suez Canal, we have an opportunity to attract trade."



Some 93 percent of New England freight is moved by truck, although

producers pay 1.75 times what competitors pay in other regions. The

study attributes some of the higher costs to fewer backhaul

opportunities, lack of competition and longer average hauling

distances.



Poor east-west road connections continue to make freight movement

difficult, with truckers traveling a patchwork of two-lane rural

roads across the region, say proponents of the intermodal project.



Peter Vigue, president of Maine-based Cianbro, one of the East

Coast´s largest construction firms, is attempting to remedy the

problem by building a private toll highway for trucks through Maine.

The proposed road would span 220 miles from Calais on the coast to

Coburn Gore on the Canadian border. Funded by private investment, the road would be built and maintained without public funds.



Joe McKeever, vice president of Louis Berger´s office in Manchester,

N.H., said the engineering firm is partnering with Cianbro to design

and build the road.



"This idea is based on a European model of private investment in

major infrastructure projects," McKeever said. "Virginia, Texas and

Florida all have private highways. So far, we´ve had a very favorable

response. Private funding means cost-avoidance to the state and

municipalities."



McKeever reports that preliminary engineering has been done and a

financial feasibility study is under way, projected for completion in

April 2008. Initial calculations report $1 billion as a starting cost estimate.



The road will be built to Canadian standards in order to accommodate

Canadian trucks, which operate at higher weights than U.S. trucks.

Long double trailers, not allowed on Maine highways, also will be

permissible.



"We´ve also had a lot of interest from the tourist, so passenger

vehicles will be allowed on the road," McKeever said. The road will

be built on private land, using existing logging roads whenever

possible. It will cross two rivers and state and public roads, where

permission will be required.



Louis Berger and Cianbro hope to start construction in 2011, with

completion in 2014.



Rail, another vital intermodal link, received mixed reviews in the

study, with reports of lower per-ton mile shipping costs but a

fragmented, insufficient system. Several railroads run short lines.

For example, New England Central runs through Vermont into northern

Massachusetts. Pam Am Railways (formerly Guilford Transportation) has

lines across Massachusetts and up into New Hampshire and Maine. The

St. Lawrence and Atlantic has a line from Portland, through Berlin,

N.H., and up into Canada.



"Our railroads need to be modernized," Michaud said. "We need high-

speed trains. If we can get freight to Chicago as fast as it can

travel from New York, and at comparable cost, we can be competitive."



Michaud said he thinks updated rail systems would help local

producers as well. "We can ship Maine potatoes out west, into new

markets."



The study cites several regional advantages, including proximity to

major economic centers, a skilled workforce and numerous border

crossings to facilitate international trade. But challenges are

evident - the region has high energy costs and is suffering from

population and economic decline in most of its rural areas. Pulp,

paper and wood products together account for 13 percent of the

commodities distributed in the U.S. portion of the study area. The

recent closure of pulp and paper mills in Maine and New Hampshire

have had a great impact on both trucking and rail. Funding

infrastructure improvements is difficult without identified revenue

streams, but attracting new sources of revenue will be difficult

without adequate infrastructure.



Michaud, however, has high hopes for regional and cross-border

cooperation.



"The New England governors and the premiers of the Canadian provinces are meeting later this year to discuss transportation," he said.

"Maybe we can thread this system together cohesively."


See also



www.mwcog.org/uploads/committee-documents/uFZZXFo20071017133929.ppt

[power point version]

I-95 Corridor Coalition  Beyond Boundaries

Presented to: National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board

 Presented by: George Schoener, Executive Director

I-95 Corridor Coalition - October 17, 2007

# 16 State Region - Maine to Florida

    * Associates: Quebec and New Brunswick

# 1,927 miles of I-95

# Multi-modal/long-distance travel focus

    * Freight

    * Passenger

# An alliance of transportation agencies, toll authorities and

related organizations



fyi-Janet






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