Maine's transportation system is a key factor in the state's economic development.
The Twin Cities of Auburn and Lewiston are making plenty of economic development news, and a big reason for their success is a strong transportation system.
Auburn and Lewiston offer easy access to Interstate 95, U.S. Route 202, five state routes and the Alfred Plourde Parkway, while the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport is the third-busiest airport in the state with 175 takeoffs and landings per day. More than 65 percent of the state’s population lives and works within 30 miles of the airport, which has been approved as a Foreign Trade Zone.
The cities are also served by Pan Am Railways and St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad, and distribution and logistics companies are within a 45-minute drive to the Port of Portland on the Atlantic Ocean. The landlocked Port of Auburn, a private warehouse and rail terminal off U.S. Route 202, handles more tonnage than any Maine seaports except Portland.
“Lewiston-Auburn has become a hub for transportation and logistics, especially with the Walmart Distribution Center in Lewiston that sees 300 trucks a day and operates 24/7/365,” says Lucien Gosselin, president of the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council. “There are dozens of businesses located in Lewiston and Auburn involved in the warehousing and distributing of industrial and consumer products.”
With the distribution sector continuing to expand, officials are addressing transportation infrastructure upgrades.
A $25 million upgrade to the I-95 exit 80 Lewiston interchange will take place over the next couple of years, while ground has been broken on a new 100-acre Auburn Industrial Park, Gosselin says.
Some of the state’s largest companies are already operating in Lewiston-Auburn, including General Electric, Formed Fiber Technologies, Geiger, LePage Bakeries, Tambrands and White Rock Distilleries. Bisson Transportation recently opened a 100,000-square-foot heated and secure warehouse for its logistics business.
“Our quality of life in both cities is also being enhanced,” says Calvin Rinck, marketing director with the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council. “Lewiston officials have developed a downtown riverfront master plan that will include construction of a new $10 million hotel, while Auburn is adding amenities such as $10 million dual surface ice rink by the Auburn Mall.”