Thursday, May 23, 2013
PORTLAND — Officials at the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority are trying to figure out their next move after bids for a layover facility for trains in Brunswick came in more than 20 percent higher than anticipated.
Patricia Quinn, the executive director of the NNEPRA, said the agency had no set budget for the layover facility, where trains on The Downeaster route will be repaired and cleaned overnight. But she said the authority had been seeking funds from state and federal sources that would total about $10 million.
Bids for the facility opened last Friday ranged from $12,245,332 to nearly $20 million.
Quinn said a committee looking at the layover facility and the NNEPRA board will have to decide what to do next. She said the board meets at the end of the month, but she doesn't know if it will take up the matter at that point.
The layover facility would allow trains to avoid traveling empty when service is extended north to Freeport and Brunswick this fall, she said. The Downeaster currently runs between Portland and Boston.
If a layover facility isn't built in Brunswick, the trains would travel empty at the end of the day to spend the night in Portland next to the rail station off the Fore River Parkway. They would also travel empty from Portland to Brunswick early the next morning to begin the first run, she said.
But state Sen, Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, said the higher-than-anticipated bids are due to costs associated with mitigating the impact of the layover facility on residents of nearby Bouchard Drive, who oppose the facility.
Gerzofsky said the bids should lead NNEPRA to look for a more appropriate site for the layover facility, such as an industrial park.