Media Archive

Trustee chosen for B&A Railroad

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 3, January 16, 2002

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

After months of waiting, the trustee who will oversee the future of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad has been appointed.

James Howard, a Boston area attorney who has operated in solo practice in New England since the early 1980s., was chosen by the federal govemement to oversee the future of Maine's railroad. Howard, who has been an attorney since 1969, first worked with railroad bankruptcy in the mid 1970s when |H he worked with Penn Central, the predecessor to Conrail.

Howard said in an interview Monday that he had applied for the trustee position not only because of his experience with railroad bankruptcy, but also for the opportunity work a better future for the local railroad.

"It looked like a tremendous professional challenge," he said. "The immediate challenge is to make sure the railroad continues to operate and, in the weeks and months ahead, find a buyer who can run the railroad."

Finding the right buyer is also a major concern for Milo Town Manager Jane Jones and others who are working to ensure the buyer will keep the railroad functioning as a whole.

At a meeting last week, Jones and other interested parties formed a coalition to represent interests in B&A to the trustee.

"It was both an informative and upbeat meeting," she said, "We (the coalition) have agreed... (that our) primary objective is to do whatever we can to express the public interest in moving through this process quickly with it (the railroad) emerging as a viable railroad in one piece. We see that as essential to the economic stability of the entire area."

Howard also seemed to favor selling the railroad as a whole.

"I've talked to many different people about this," he said, "and it (breaking up the system) is not something I would be interested in.... We think we can sell it as a system."

Howard said he is describing his work, the process of turning over the system to a buyer who can revitalize the railroad, something that will be done in months, not weeks or years.

"I don't plan to make this a lifetime project," he said.

While the process unfolds, Jones will gather the coalition which includes over 50 municipal creditors of the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad.

"We hope to (eventually) embrace businesses and other associations," she said. "So many are dependent on the B&A to conduct business.... We only have a short time frame for organizing as much as we can. This is just a starting point. Just because the B&A doesn't owe (one entity) money doesn't mean their closure wouldn't have a direct effect."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.