By Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon
As appeared on page C1
Announcements about the trade corridor between New Brunswick and Maine could be pending, Maine Gov. John Baldacci hinted Wednesday.
“You’re going to hear more and more about that in weeks coming up,” he told reporters following his speech to an estimated 250 political and business leaders at a Saint John Board of Trade luncheon at the Delta Brunswick Hotel.
Baldacci didn’t elaborate. He did say there’s an estimated $500 million in construction projects underway along the border, including a transmission line, bridge crossing and border crossing.
“We’re working very hard to get those expedited as soon as possible and we’ve been trying to hold the U.S. army corps’ feet to the fire and the U.S. federal agencies to get the work done.
“We want to get people to work and start getting our economies going.”
The provincial government is building a new transmission line to Maine. New Brunswick and Maine signed a memorandum of understanding on energy earlier this month, which could see the two sides join a power pool.
Baldacci has said his state is doing all the “heavy lifting” in terms of power generation for southern New England, but his ratepayers are being charged more.
Meanwhile, a new bridge and border crossing at St. Stephen and Calais is expected to open in 2008. In St. Stephen, the construction of the new bridge is widely viewed as a positive move that will help keep traffic moving and assure the town’s position as the most efficient Atlantic border crossing on the east-west trade route.
The $100-million project is being funded by the provincial, state and federal governments after decades of wrangling over where to build the new bridge.
“I think we’re just going to see ourselves tying ourselves together more and more as we do tourism, economic development and (getting) our goods to market,” said Baldacci.
“We may compete in certain areas, but overall our strength is working together.”
This was the first time the two-term Democratic governor has officially travelled to the province on state business. He said he plans to start appearing in New Brunswick more often to build strategic partnerships in a variety of areas.