Despite the recession Eastern ports are seeing a steady rise in the amount of cargo container shipping traffic. Charles Moorman, CEO of Norfolk Rail said the use of freight is estimated to increase by 80 percent by 2025. Does this make you hopeful for Maine’s ports?
“If our businesses are going to be able to compete and get their goods to market they can’t continue to put them on big rigs and transport them on the roads because it costs too much. They need other options available to them; rail, ports and airports. I think we are going to get a balanced transportation presentation with rail and our ports being a big part of it. I’m excited about this administrations initiatives and what we are doing here in the state of Maine.
“Cargo container business has increased, and will continue to, even if the economy is flat. Businesses are shipping more because of the cost of transporting their goods using diesel or gas is higher than shipping. Passing transportation costs on to consumers is not a good business practice. Consumers pay for value. Businesses understand their predicament and are realigning by shipping their goods because it is more efficient. Portland, Eastport and Searsport can be major players. There is a bond issue to help improve these ports come November.
“Maine is the doorstep to North America. You have to come in and out of Maine’s corridors in order to get into North America from Europe. And Europe is the in-between stop to Asia. That puts us on the front line for import and export opportunities.
"If you look at the map of Maine with 17,000 million acres of forestlands, there are three major veins running through the state. The first is Downeast – Northern Maine that the port of Eastport serves. The second is Millinocket–Katahdin region that Searsport will serve, and the third is Portland and Southern Maine, which has Portland’s cargo port.
“We have a three-port strategy based upon these veins of economic development and traffic. The more we can help facilitate that three port strategy the more we can help businesses who can then employ more people.
"It will go a long way to help our pulp and paper companies, which are diversifying producing biofuels. They remain a major manufacturing base in the state.
“Once the three-port strategy is in place, traffic generates traffic, more business opportunities and economic development will follow.”
What’s is the update on the Downeaster?
“I was really pleased that the Congress nearly doubled the appropriation for rail. The original four billion was closer to eight billion. We don’t have a national rail policy, let alone a regional policy. We, in Maine, want to do more.
We have a plan before the Department of Transportation to expand the Downeaster to Brunswick, with a stop in Freeport. Then we have a connection on the Eastern Railroad to go on to Rockland. We have proposals to connect our ports in Searsport with rail, and Eastport with rail.”