JOHNSON MOUNTAIN TOWNSHIP — Obscured by a swirling snow squall, an amphibious off-road transporter with 5-foot-high tires maneuvered Friday along the Maine ITS 89 snowmobile trail at the base of Coburn Mountain. At a junction, two workers from Northern Clearing, a Wisconsin-based right-of-way contractor, stepped into the wind and 11-degree cold and secured a sign and pink flagging tape to a small tree.

The sign was one of hundreds being erected in remote stretches of northwestern Maine between the Canadian border and The Forks. They will guide crews – likely starting next week – to where they will begin clearing sections of a 53-mile-long corridor through the forest for Central Maine Power’s $1 billion hydroelectric power corridor project, called New England Clean Energy Connect.

After three years of dispute and debate, and despite ongoing court challenges and a pending voter referendum, work is finally set to begin to create a 54-foot-wide path for hydroelectricity from Quebec that ultimately will be earmarked for customers in Massachusetts.