Welcome to the I-395/Rt 9 Hard Look website!
This site is created by citizens that have a vested interest in the Maine Department of Transportation’s efforts to connect I-395 in Brewer with Route 9 in Clifton. We are deeply concerned with the MaineDOT’s current preferred route choice of “2B-2” as it does not meet the Study Purpose and Needs, is a short-term band-aid fix, would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, and would unnecessarily displace residents and negatively affect the communities in the area – all at a time when we as a state cannot afford to maintain the roads and bridges we currently own. Community leaders of Brewer and Eddington have spoken out against the “2B-2” connector option.
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 below 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 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 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? Read on.