The Amtrak Downeaster Visits Freeport and Brunswick
Patricia Quinn, 207-252-1153
PORTLAND, MAINE – May 14, 2012 The Amtrak Downeaster made a special excursion trip to Freeport and Brunswick, Maine today in advance of the anticipated start of daily service later this year. The train transported local, state and federal officials to celebrate the completion of passenger platforms in each community. Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies held in both locations attracted more than 500 enthusiastic spectators.
The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA), which manages the Downeaster, received a $38.3 million grant as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) in 2010 to expand the successful Downeaster service to Freeport and Brunswick. Construction to rehabilitate the 28 mile line, owned primarily by Pan Am Railways, has been underway for two years. Completion of the passenger platforms is a significant Project milestone and an indication that the long awaited daily passenger rail service to Freeport/Brunswick is just a few months away.
Platforms in both communities were constructed under the supervision of the Maine Department of Transportation. Prime contractor, D&C Construction Company, and 15 other subcontractors contributed to the Project, providing jobs for more than 100 Maine residents and creating millions of dollars in economic activity. According to D&C President Brad Cleaves, "We are proud to have partnered with the MaineDOT and NNEPRA, along with our valued suppliers and subcontractors, in the extension of passenger rail to the municipalities of Freeport and Brunswick. We thank all of you for a successful project."
With platforms now complete, Freeport and Brunswick will join the family of ten other Downeaster Station Communities located in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts which have enjoyed Downeaster service for more than ten years. These communities have collectively benefited from nearly a half billion dollars in public/private development projects and have experienced economic growth which has outpaced their neighbors.
Although the Brunswick platform will be maintained by the Town, it is surrounded by a $20 million private development complex which includes a station, Visitors Center operated by the Brunswick Downtown Association, retail shops, offices and a hotel. Freeport plans to renovate the hose tower/Visitor Center to provide a ticketing location and waiting area for passengers and expects the train to draw many new tourists and shoppers to the area.
"The expansion of the Downeaster has already brought new economic development and will soon give greater transportation options for residents from Brunswick to Boston and help to boost Maine’s tourism industry," said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. "This is the first passenger rail project from the Recovery Act to begin construction, and the fact that it is on time and on budget is a testament to NNEPRA and serves as a model for other rail projects underway around the country." Szabo spoke both celebrations on Monday.