Citizens take a “hard look” at the I-395/Route 9 connector!
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This website was created in February 2014 by private citizens with a vested interest in MaineDOT’s efforts to connect I-395 in Brewer with Route 9 in Clifton. Since discovering, in December 2011, that the 2B-2 alternative was covertly chosen as the new (second) preferred alternative, we have been deeply concerned for the following reasons: 1.) 2B-2 does not meet the study’s original Purpose and Needs (see the matrix above), 2.) 2B-2 is nothing more than a short-term band-aid fix, 3.) 2B-2 will squander away our state’s limited transportation dollars, and 4.) 2B-2 will unnecessarily displace residents and negatively affect communities in the area, at a time when the DOT cannot afford to even maintain the roads and bridges we drive on everyday. Community leaders from Brewer and Eddington have spoken out against the 2B-2 connector option.
Note added on 9.29.17: This website is directly based on documentation gleaned mostly from MaineDOTs official I-395/Route 9 Transportation Study website. The first 9+ years of this Study, as fully documented on that website, ended in April 2009 with alternative 2B-2 meeting only 20% of the five Purpose and Needs (see matrix above). YET, the first preferred alternative for almost 7 years (3EIK-2) and 4 other alternatives all meeting 100% of the Purpose and Needs were removed from consideration and covertly replaced with 2B-2 by September 2010. That official MaineDOT Study website, containing the entire historical data of this study, was turned off in January of 2017; although they (MaineDOT) have since said that they would gladly share any of the old information, it is hard for anyone unfamiliar with the whole history of this study to ask a question if ALL that information is unavailable first to form that question. All that missing information is STILL available on this website. Hyperlinks to the original MaineDOT Study website are no longer valid..
Here’s the story….
In the year 2000, the MaineDOT hired a consultant to facilitate the study process, which involved a Public Advisory Committee – a citizen group made up of representatives from the communities in the study area (Brewer, Holden, Eddington, and Clifton), along with representatives of various State and Federal agencies. The group began by identifying the Study Purpose and Needs for the project, which included safety, system linkage, and traffic congestion for a long-term period. 79+ alternatives were pondered over the years, with the most likely scenario in April 2009 being an alternative called “3EIK-2” which ran from the end of I-395 in Brewer through the mostly-wooded and unpopulated portion of Holden, connecting to Route 9 – east of Route 46 – near the Eddington/Clifton town line. As documented above in a MaineDOT-provided matrix chart, the 3EIK-2 alternative met 100% of the Study Purpose and Needs at the same time that 2B-2 only met 20% (1 of 5) of the Study Purpose and Needs. After the April 2009 PAC meeting, which turned out to be the last time that the PAC was to be paneled, it seemed the agencies were going to conduct further environmental studies and report back. However, between that last meeting and December 2011, all that had changed…
A Brewer resident decided one day in December 2011 to check the MaineDOT’s project study website, and discovered a new small map that seemed to indicate recent activity on the project. That resident wrote an email to the MaineDOT Project Manager for the study and inquired about the map, and the Project Manager responded. All of this new information came after the same resident asked in March 2011 for an update – and the Project Manager did not reveal any of this new information, although the fate of “2B-2” was decided in December 2010. An intentional act of deception by a state official – the project manager no less – does not engender trust in the MaineDOT, and this pattern of non-communication and lack of complete transparency continues to this day – despite the MaineDOT putting out a press release/apology in January 2012 to the contrary.
From that point on, it has been all we can do to get a clear and straight answer from the MaineDOT and/or the FHWA on what exactly has been going on, why route criteria was changed, who made the decision, and why wasn’t the public involved. Multiple FOAA (Freedom of Access Act) requests were made, and even one lawsuit filed, in an attempt to figure out exactly how route 2B-2 now meets Study Purpose and Needs, when in April 2009, 2B-2 did not meet Purpose and Needs. What exactly constitutes the MaineDOT’s “hard look at Route 9” and where are the data to support the new selection?