Driving home along Moxie Pond on the Troutdale Road in The Forks, Denise Rancourt can see the loaders, excavators and harvesters in the adjacent forest, cutting and limbing trees.

Crews had cleared three or so miles on the side of the existing Central Maine Power transmission line as of last week, she estimated.

“They are working right across from me, so I see it daily,” said Rancourt, the clerk and tax collector for The Forks.

What Rancourt is seeing is a high-stakes race to build as much of the $1 billion New England Clean Energy Connect power line project as possible this year. But to do it, the company must sidestep a growing number of legal barriers that opponents are throwing up, including pending court decisions that the plaintiffs hope can hobble Maine’s most controversial energy project and bring progress to an abrupt stop.