EDDINGTON, Maine — Documents have arrived six months after town officials filed a Freedom of Access Act request six months ago to see information state transportation leaders used in choosing a preferred route for the planned Interstate 395-Route 9 connector.

Planning board member Gretchen Heldmann will “provide an update on the connector project — the highlights of the 1,239 page pdf received via the FOAA request made by the Selectmen,” at the selectmen’s meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, she said in an email. She did not make those highlights immediately available.
Heldmann invited those interested in the proposed connector, designed to ease heavy truck traffic from the Canadian Maritimes to the federal highway system, to attend.

Maine Department of Transportation officials changed the state’s preferred route just over a year ago to 2B-2, which would extend I-395 at its Wilson Street junction and would roughly follow the Holden-Brewer line until entering Eddington and connecting with Route 9.

The decision stunned town officials and residents, including those in Eddington, because they were not informed until months after the choice was made.

Selectmen filed the Freedom of Access Act request in October for all communications issued between August 2011 and September 2012 among eight state transportation employees involved with the project. Town leaders also requested information about any meetings held since the May 2012 public hearing in Eddington on the proposed highway project, which drew hundreds of residents to discuss the draft environmental impact statement.

Nineteen attendees offered comments at the hearing that were consolidated with 11 comment letters, seven comment forms, 79 comment emails and one petition from Eddington residents who oppose the measure, the MDOT posted on i395-rt9-study.com, a website set up to keep residents informed about the planned project.

“MaineDOT and FHWA [Federal Highway Administration] have prepared responses to substantive comments received on the DEIS [draft environmental impact statement] and are preparing the FEIS [final environmental impact statement],” the website states.

State transportation officials have been studying a Brewer-Holden-Eddington connector since 2000 and dozens of routes have been considered over the last 13 years.

In addition to the more than 1,200-page file issued by the state to Eddington, MDOT officials also have posted some of the requested information on the I-395-Route 9 transportation study’s website.