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    Project Overview
    The purpose of the Aroostook County Transportation Study is to identify and evaluate transportation alternatives that will meet the Study's stated Purpose and Need. While the purpose and need for the study includes a number of diverse goals, the primary objective is to identify transportation improvements that would help stem the economic downturn that has occurred over the past several decades and spur future economic growth within the study area. The study area comprises the northeastern portion of Aroostook County and is bounded roughly by Route 11 on the west, the Canadian border on the north and east, and I-95 to the south.

    The Aroostook County Transportation Study has been divided into eight major steps.

    • Data Collection. Gathering and documentation of the transportation, economic, and environmental existing conditions within the study area;
    • Initial Corridor Screening. Identification and screening of 40 initial corridors to select corridors for detailed study;
    • Corridor Evaluation. Detailed evaluation of chosen corridors, view slides from the 2001 Public Information Tour detailing the evaluation process, view the 4 corridors studied in the DEIS;
    • Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Public Hearing, view the DEIS and view the DEIS Comment Summary;
    • Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Preparation of a Supplemental DEIS (SDEIS) (released July 2006) and Public Hearing (held August 2006);
    • Economic Impact Study - Presque Isle Bypass. Preparation of an Economic Impact Study (November 2007, Adobe PDF - 400KB) to evaluate the potential economic impacts of a Presque Isle Bypass on businesses in the downtown Presque Isle area.
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Highway Methodology Process. Preparation of a Phase I Avoidance document, including revised Basic Project Purpose (USACE approved Phase I, identifying range of alternatives to advance to Phase II, in October 2007) and Preparation of Phase II Permit Application (Caribou Connector completed in December 2007, Presque Isle Bypass completed in June 2008). USACE issued Public Notice. USACE identified Least Environmentally Damaging Practical Alternative (LEDPA) for Route 1-Route 161 Connector in Caribou in September 2008. Work towards consensus on LEDPA/Preferred Alternative for the Presque Isle Bypass by January 2010. View the Section 404 Permit Application for the Caribou Route 1-161 Connector (December 2007) and the Presque Isle Bypass (June 2008) Adobe PDF filePart 1 (download size: 10.2MB) | Adobe PDF filePart 2 (download size: 17.0MB).
    • Final Environmental Impact Statement. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the overall Aroostook County Transportation Study and the Route 1-161 Connector in Caribou was released in December 2009. In February 2010, FHWA issued a Record of Decision for the Aroostook County Transportation Study FEIS (Adobe PDF fileTier 1 ROD) and the Route 1-161 Connector in Caribou FEIS (Adobe PDF fileTier 2 ROD).

      A separate FEIS for the Presque Isle Bypass is expected to be released in the Fall of 2010 followed by the issuance of a Record of Decision by the FHWA. View the preferred corridor map.

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      If you are experiencing problems when viewing this PDF (linked above), please click here to access each file individually. If you would like a copy of the FEIS on CD mailed to you, contact Lisa Standley.
       
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    The SDEIS was completed in June 2006, with public hearings held in August 2006. On August 31, 2006, the public comment period for the SDEIS was closed. MaineDOT has reviewed and responded to the comments received during the public comment period. View the FEIS-Response to Comments included in the FEIS. See Project News for details of the FEIS that was completed in December 2009. A Winter 2009 Project Newsletter has been prepared. View the latest Project Newsletter (Winter 2009, Adobe PDF).

    Project Purpose and Need:Houlton
    The Purpose of the study is to evaluate transportation alternatives that would improve the region's economy by improving transportation mobility. Aroostook County has an inadequate transportation system that limits access and mobility to, from, and within the county. Poor mobility in turn limits economic opportunity.

    Specific elements of the Need for transportation improvements include:

    • Aroostook County suffers from a long-term loss of population;
    • The unemployment rate in the Study Area has been chronically higher than the state average;
    • The rate of job growth has been chronically below the state average;
    • There has been a lack of diverse job opportunities which would retain and attract workers;
    • There is a need to improve transportation access to, from and within Aroostook County and the surrounding provinces to improve access to jobs, reduce long distances and travel times for goods to market, and address issues of transportation system continuity.

    Transportation improvements that address economic and transportation needs should meet the following specific Objectives:

    Purpose of this Project:

    • Economic Objectives:
      • Maintain and expand the Aroostook County economy as it affects population, employment, diversification of jobs, and income;
      • Enhance the marketability of Aroostook County's existing and potential economic assets;
      • Improve access to jobs and services;
      • Improve connections to markets within and outside of Aroostook County including New England, Canada, and more distant areas; and
      • Improve access to multi-modal (air and rail) facilities.
    • Transportation Objectives:
      • Reduce travel time to, from and within Aroostook County;
      • Enhance the reliability of Aroostook County's transportation system;
      • Improve traffic flow through Houlton, Mars Hill, Presque Isle, and Caribou;
      • Reduce the potential for accidents;
      • Provide an adequate highway geometry;
      • Reduce speed differentials in developed areas, and among highway users;
      • Reduce conflicts caused by the varied traffic mix;
      • Provide a transportation system that can accommodate higher truck weights within Aroostook County;
      • Provide better facilities for all modes of transportation;
      • Improve access management along existing highways;
      • Mitigate conflicts between wildlife (particularly moose and deer) and the transportation infrastructure; and
      • Reduce the perception of remoteness that contributes to the perception that there are "two Maines."
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