Sep 18, 2009

MDOT- Sears Island container port would NOT reduce state's truck traffic.

At a recent public forum about Sears Island, MaineDOT Commissioner David Cole let out a big secret as he laid out his agency's vision of a Sears Island port.  It would not be an ordinary container port, he said,

It would be a "Trans-shipment container port."

"The paradigm has significantly shifted" Cole declared, describing the plan for Sears Island to be  

"a  trans-shipment containerport connecting Maine to Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. is now part of the environmental solution"   He envisioned "...stacked containers moving by rail  from ships docking at Sears Island directly to depots in the midwestern US  by way of Montreal."

"The reality is" Cole piously said  "a third of our carbon footprint comes from the transportation sector. If we're going to be serious at reducing it, you've got to work at finding more economical and environmentally friendly and energy efficient  ways of  moving goods.  Shipping by sea and by rail -it would be a railport  -comes to the port of Searsport as the most environmentally friendly way of moving goods."

 Part of the environmental solution, eh? Most environmentally friendly, huh?  Certainly that would be true if the port and rail system Cole dreams about  would replace the trucks that fill our roads and highways, ceaselessly delivering to wholesale and retail outlets the goods we use in out daily lives.

But it won't! The Baldacci Admin dream is a "trans-shipment container railport" remember?   Sears Island will just be a sort of global trade portal zone. One where containers from overseas are transferred to railcars for shipment nonstop to commercial centers in the Midwestern US. Not a single container will stay in Maine.

Meanwhile the highways will still be jammed with trucks, trucks,  trucks...


Melani said...

So we of Maine would be trading Sears Island, the surrounding estuary, and the area's natural ambiance that is Maine's appeal to tourists and tourist based businesses, so that corporations in the midwest could have a northern Atlantic access route to use - all with no substantial benefit to Maine or Mainers.
Can anyone be so hungry for money/power that they would consider that a good trade?

Ron Huber said...

Lots of folks are that hungry, or they wouldn't be trying. Let me check with our shipping experts out west, they may be helpful in understanding the phenomenon of trans shipment.

Anonymous said...

David Cole didn't actually say that truck traffic would not be reduced as a result of container/rail shipment, did he?

Regardless, a simpler way of parsing the situation is that added rail links could be built to serve Eastport and Portland (and points west) without degrading Sears Island.

We need a strong refutation of Cole's insistence on the double-stacking advantage.
I haven't heard one, and we know that to be key to the Sears Island preference over Mack Point.

Jody (Please respond to my hotmail address.)