PITTSFIELD — Protesters gathered Friday outside Cianbro headquarters displaying signs protesting the proposed toll highway that would cut a 220-mile path across Maine from Calais to Coburn Gore.
While the exact route of the road proposed by Cianbro President and CEO Peter Vigue hasn’t been determined, it would go through central Maine towns that likely include Dover-Foxcroft, where many of the protesters Friday were from.
The $2 million six-lane privately owned road would connect Quebec and New Brunswick and supporters, including Vigue, say it would boost the economy of the state. Truck traffic between Quebec and the Maritimes now either has to travel on interstates, connecting with Interstate 95 in Southern Maine before going north, or travel circuitous routes on two-lane U.S. Route 201 or Route 27.
Demonstrators say the highway would destroy the scenic and rural nature of Maine, without economic benefit to all but a handful of people.
“My sign says ‘Vigue’s dream is our nightmare,’ which is one of the sentiments that we have in Dover-Foxcroft in particular,” demonstrator Peter Brenc, 65, said from the sidewalk on Main Street Friday.
Vigue could not be reached for comment Friday and since the Legislature killed a $300,000 feasibility study in May 2013, there has been little word on the plan’s progress, though he said the plan isn’t needed to go forward.
Vigue has said that Maine needs to transform its economic approach and transportation system to take advantage of changes in global trade.
Dover-Foxcroft has a moratorium on construction of the east-west highway through town. A proposed town ordinance banning construction of the highway could be on the November ballot, Lisa Laser, of Dover-Foxcroft, said. Dexter and Sangerville have also taken steps agains the highway coming through their towns.
Laser is concerned land could be taken by eminent domain to build the road.
“This is the single most destructive project this state has seen,” Laser said. “If you can just imagine that much concrete and gravel going through every river, every bog, every steam on its route — and it’s bisecting these communities — you just can’t wrap your brain around the destruction of it. This is a conduit to source out our state. Our state is up for the highest bidder in terms of biomass, water, minerals and this could be the end of the state as we know it. We’re lucky enough to live in the last frontier of New England.”
Doug Harlow — 612-2367