U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud strongly supported the construction of a publicly financed East-West highway through northern Maine in an economic development plan published during his first congressional race.
“There is probably no single thing that Congress could do that will provide more economic benefit to the Second District than the building of this road,” Michaud, a Democrat, wrote in his 2002 Economic Development Plan for Maine’s Second Congressional District.
“I will work aggressively to secure the funding for the study and eventually the road itself,” Michaud wrote.
The East-West corridor — a proposed 220-mile highway stretching from Calais to Bethel and beyond — never moved past the talking stage at the federal level, but has recently resurfaced as privately funded project backed by Cianbro Corp. and its CEO Peter Vigue.
The corridor became a hot-button issue in northern Maine when, in 2012, Gov. Paul LePage and the Republican-controlled state legislature passed a bill to fund a $300,000 feasibility study of the road. The clash over whether to develop rural areas of northern Maine has pit pro-business interests against environmentalists and other residents who simply don’t want a highway in their backyard.
Supporters of the East-West corridor believe it will provide tremendous economic benefits for businesses in northern Maine, just as the I-95 corridor has spurred development along its route.
Michaud, who has received endorsements from environmental groups that oppose the corridor, has not taken a public position on the issue since he began his campaign for governor last year.
UPDATE: A source sent along the following statement Michaud made to the Maine Conservation Voters regarding the East-West Corridor: “I oppose the proposed East-West Highway, but have long advocated for an East-West rail system to help transport goods from the port of Eastport to the rest of the country and around the globe.”
That statement would seem contrary to Michaud’s strong support for the construction of a “road” and “roadway.”