Maine Trails, August - September '07
Inside Cover
President’s Message
Cover Story: Rail revival
Member News
Conversations with the committee


President’s Message
The weakest link. The Minnesota bridge tragedy – could it happen here?

By Lauren Corey, MBTA President

On August 1, the I-35W bridge collapsed during the evening rush hour in Minneapolis. Thirteen people died in the tragic event, and it didn’t take long for people all over the country to start asking the question: Could it happen here?

The truth is, it could happen anywhere – even in Maine. Our transportation system has thousands of “weak links,” and many of them are bridges. There are 70,000 deficient bridges in the United States – over 300 of them are right here at home (Maine, in fact ranks 13th in the nation for percent of deficient bridges). In a congressional hearing about the bridge collapse before the House Transportation Committee, Minneapolis The truth is, it could happen anywhere –even in Maine. Our transportation system has thousands of “weak links,” and many of them are bridges. There are 70,000 deficient bridges in the United States – over 300 of them are right here at home (Maine, in fact ranks 13th in the nation for percent of deficient bridges). In a congressional hearing about the bridge collapse before the House Transportation Committee, Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak was blunt. He told members that the deaths in the collapse “were not an act of God, but a failure of man, and a failure of our inability to invest in basic core infrastructure.”

Here in Maine, when the Transportation Committee met in late August, engineers from MaineDOT were equally straightforward when reporting on the status of the state’s bridge inspection program. MaineDOT Maintenance Engineer John Buxton told committee members, “Inspections don’t fix bridges.” Buxton’s message was loud and clear, but the true test will be what the people of Maine and our leaders decide to do in the coming months. Will we continue with business as usual, making do with a shrinking piece of the pie? Not only bridges are at stake. We have many other weak links in our transportation system.

Will we begin to make those tough decisions – what roads will we allow to further deteriorate? Which bridges will we close? What other transportation infrastructure will we have to sacrifice for lack of funding? Or will we do as the generation before us did and make a commitment to investing in a modern, safe and efficient transportation system?

I think we only need to look to the Maine people for the answer. Maine voters’ record on transportation is clear – not once in the past 38 years have they rejected a transportation bond that included highway projects. Citizens clearly see the need and are willing to invest. The problem is, bonding is just a short-term answer.

In late August, the Transportation and Appropriations committees took up the long-term funding discussion with renewed zeal, the I-35W bridge collapse being still fresh in everyone’s minds. Legislators from both committees agreed to jointly study a range of potential funding sources including looking at how the fuel tax is levied; registration and title fee increases; and bridge and highway tolls. The goal is to begin to piece together a long-term solution to rehabilitate the state’s aging transportation infrastructure. So, what will ultimately be the weakest link? We know that the public feels strongly about the need for investment in our critical transportation infrastructure. But we can just as easily become the weakest link, if we step back and let the debate disintegrate without demanding definitive action from our leaders. We need our legislators’ determined commitment to reverse years of neglect to our highways, bridges, airports, ports and rail. The MBTA will be calling on all of our members to help educate legislators about the benefits of infrastructure investment and the costs of neglect. I hope you will join us – and encourage your family, friends and co-workers to get involved – in our continued efforts to advocate for a modern, efficient and safe transportation system for Maine.

Finally, I would like to say how wonderful it was talking with so many of you in recent months at the MBTA Infrastructure Fund Golf Tournament, our Washington and Aroostook county meetings and our Fall Convention. We have many events upcoming this fall and winter – including the Maine Transportation Achievement Awards. I hope you will join me in congratulating Walter Parady, Don Raye and the Honorable Christine Savage, and join us on November 2th for the awards banquet. It will be quite an event! Please be sure to mark your calendar for the Maine Transportation Conference on December 6th, too. We have a great roster of speakers planned, and it should be a lively and informative forum. See you soon!


Cover Story: Rail revival
Two excursion rail operations and a new study show promise for economic development and a revival of freight

By Douglas Rooks

Excursion rail service may not be the first thing you think about when you think of a state's transportation system. Still, in Maine, several new ventures have brought new verve to the tourism industry while reopening passenger lines that had seen only freight for decades. Just recently, MaineDOT has contracted for excursion trains from Ellsworth and the legislature has authorized a new study of rail service in southern Maine. Meanwhile, the growing success of summer and fall trains on the restored Rockland Branch has brought new hope to operators around New England.

"Rail is expensive to restore and maintain," observes Ron Roy, director of MaineDOT's Office of Passenger Transportation. “But there’s no doubt that it attracts a lot of interest.” Some of that interest comes from community leaders who see rail as an opportunity for economic development. Tom Testa has been a driving force in a group of Bar Harbor area business leaders that is bringing rail back to that region. The branch line, built as an alternative to the then all-powerful Maine Central, is a late 19th century creation that runs south from Brewer to Ellsworth where it turns east. Its route explores some of the most scenic coastline in the U.S. before reaching Machias and Calais and covers more than 120 miles in all.

Even today, the rail line is the only direct connection between Washington County’s two largest municipalities.It was acquired by the state through a voter approved bond issue in 1986, after the line was abandoned. Testa owns a restaurant in Bar Harbor, and when the region’s business owners were discussing the area’s future, the status of the Calais Branch often came up. “The trains hadn’t run in almost two decades when we started,” Testa said. “But it’s just such an obvious addition to the area, both in terms of a new attraction for visitors and as a spur to economic development.”

A study by a Pennsylvania consulting firm provided good news about the condition of the track – better than expected, with the rail in generally good shape. "The main thing we need to do is replace ties, several thousand of them," Testa said. And the prospective economic impact looks even better – a potential annual addition of $5 million to the local economy and 200 direct and indirect jobs. Encouraged by the study, organizers formed the Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust – “We couldn’t think of a shorter name,” Testa says, in jest. Once the service is operating, it will be known by the more manageable title of Downeast Scenic Railroad. Testa said the group needs $500,000 to restore the first four miles of track north from Ellsworth. The group hopes to get work trains going next summer.

That will add some visual excitement to the volunteer work crews that have been working on the line regularly for several years. If all goes well, the railroad itself will be open for business in the summer of 2009.

That also is the deadline MaineDOT agreed to in its contract with the rail group. “We wanted to give them a fair shot at getting trains running again, without necessarily tying up the track for years and years in case someone else wants to give it a try,” Roy said.

Testa is confident, based on fundraising to date and the public interest the project has generated, that the deadline will be met. The Downeast group meets monthly and has had several special fundraising events, including an all-day cookout and work day this August at Washington Junction.

Finding what works
Before proceeding, the group took a careful look at which excursion rail projects have failed and which have succeeded. In New Hampshire, the almost venerable Conway Scenic Railroad has been chugging through the White Mountains for more than 30 years.

Unlike the Downeast group, which has been organized as a non-profit, the Conway railroad has always been a for-profit business. “You don’t make a lot of money,” Ron Roy observed, “but if you offer a good ride and keep pecking away at maintenance, it can work.” Testa said the group was perhaps most interested in the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which started much the same way as the Downeast group envisions its Calais Branch will run. “They thought they’d carry 13,000 passengers the first year, and they had 55,000,” he said. The line was so successful that New York Department of Transportation later asked the operators to extend service out of the Adironacks as a congestion relief project. “They still call it excursion rail, but it really works as a commuter line,” Testa said.

Another project of interest was the Black Hills Central Railroad, an excursion service in South Dakota that has been successful operating in the gateway to a national park – the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. What’s similar to both the Adirondacks and Black Hills in the Ellsworth area is the huge stream of people – an estimated 2.2 to 2.5 million entering Acadia National Park annually, plus several million more who visit other areas of the island and surrounding region. Those visitor numbers make it more likely the Downeast group will succeed, in contrast to the Belfast & Moosehead Railroad, which now offers only limited excursions and has discontinued its historic connection to the Belfast waterfront.

“We know this can work,” Testa said. “It’s a matter of getting all the pieces in place.” He takes encouragement from inquiries that have come in to the Downeast Trust office already. “We’ve had more than 50 people trying to make reservations for rail service that doesn’t yet exist,” he said.

Heading east from Ellsworth, the Calais Branch tracks to and beyond Machias are due to be removed soon to create the Downeast Sunrise trail, running 80 miles between Ellsworth and Pembroke, making it the longest recreational trail in the Northeast. The conversion from rail to trail did not sit well with rail interests, who continue to articulate their concerns in local papers about the folly of removing tracks that might be useful again someday.

Testa stays out of that discussion entirely, and says his group has plenty of work just to gettrains running as far as Green Lake and possibly – someday – to Brewer. Roy is quite clear about the agreement the state signed with trail advocates for the Ellsworth-to-Pembroke section. “The priority use for rail is still there, when it’s feasible,” he said. In the meantime, trail development is the best way to maintain the corridor that has been deteriorating, he said.

“It keeps bridges intact and makes sure there aren’t encroachments on the right of way.” Testa said the trail and the excursion rail line are in many ways natural partners. He wants to find an Ellsworth location that can serve as a visitor center for both, while helping put Ellsworth on the map as a tourism destination in its own right, rather than just a place to shop on the way to Mount Desert Island.

Rolling from Rockland
Down the coast in Rockland, the trains have been rolling for four years now, and the third full summer season is by far the best to date, said Gordon Page, vice president of the Maine Eastern Railroad. The line now operates daily excursions from Brunswick to Rockland and will continue service into the fall. Last year, the line carried 14,000 passengers on as many as three daily roundtrips. The operation is on track to meet its goal of a 25 percent increase, meaning some 17,500 riders on the fully restored Rockland Branch. The trains to the Rockland Lobster Festival, that launched the service in 2004, have been packed, with an 11 percent ridership increase over the previous year.

However, Maine Eastern is not a nonprofit, nor is it interested solely in carrying visitors. Rather, the excursions are in effect a holding operation for what the railroad hopes will be much greater passenger volumes in the future, to complement a thriving freight operation that has impressed even a veteran observer like Ron Roy. “It’s worked really well for them. Their service is excellent and it shows,” he said.

Maine Eastern is a subsidiary of Morristown & Erie Railway of New Jersey, an old operator that has carved out a niche during the contemporary era of revitalization by carrying both passengers and freight. Morristown & Erie’s business equation also has included a good dose of rail romance. They began using vintage 1940s and ’50s diesels and coaches for its New Jersey runs, a formula that has proven to be a hit in Maine. The firm’s success has not come without a lot of effort. Maine Eastern has been doing a lot of marketing, not only in television and print advertising, particularly in Down East magazine and the major dailies, but in creating tie-ins to events and other modes of transportation that often prove crucial in whether train service is successful or not.

“There are three major festivals in Rockland, and each has its own demographic, its own distinct audience,” Gordon Page said. “It gives us an excellent opportunity to reach people who never knew there was a train to ride.” The service is now well-established enough for Page to talk with charter tour bus operators, who brings thousands of tourists from around New England to Maine, with numbers peaking in summer and again during foliage season. “The tour operators are always looking for something new,” he said. “Their people don’t want to come to town just to shop. They also like something different to do.”

Short and sweet
Maine Eastern has continued and expanded its package deals with restaurants in Rockland, Brunswick, and its other two stops – Bath and Wiscasset – and put together similar deals with tour boat operators as well. As a result, the passenger operation should break even this year and perhaps earn a small profit next year – a rapid growth curve, by rail standards. Visitors generally don’t want to spend a whole day on the train – a two-to-three hour ride is generally enough, Page said. That’s a point Tom Testa makes too, in suggesting that the 10-mile run from Ellsworth to Green Lake should be ideal for excursion operations. The train-and-boat combination works, as does the train-and-dinner (though Maine Eastern has also upgraded its parlor car service for those who want to eat en route.)

Another horizon for inter-tourism connectivity was mentioned by Ron Roy. “The cruise ships that are calling at just about every big pier in Maine are a great target,” he said. The same people who enjoy ocean cruises are likely to be rail fans, as well.

A welcome new feature of this year’s Maine Eastern run is the restored 1942 train station in Bath that replaces a cursory platform stop under the old Carlton Bridge. Renovated with lots of local assistance, the new station is a real asset for the train service, Page said, not least because it now houses a retail store and the Chamber of Commerce information center. A cafeteria-style restaurant is also planned for the station. “People looking for information about the area or something to eat can see that the train is right there as well,” he said, adding that this kind of local support is just what the railroad needs to thrive long-term.

Another key stop on the route is the station in Rockland. It was built in 1919 and has a fullservice, 60-seat restaurant, the Union Station Grille, as well as a railroad gift shop. That station reopened in 2006, and it attracts a steady stream of potential rail riders. “It’s all about business relationships,” said Page. “Whether the operation is for-profit or non-profit, partnering and packaging increases the possibility of success in rebuilding rail activity.”

Down the road (both figuratively and literally) is the former rail hub of Brunswick, vital both to the long-term future of Maine Eastern and to passenger train service in Maine generally. Making a viable connection to Portland, where the Downeaster has been newly upgraded, now making five roundtrips daily to Boston, would connect Maine Eastern trains with regular, reliable passenger service. It could also provide a link to Lewiston-Auburn, Maine’s second largest metro area, and even include access to the state’s capital via a separate branch line along the Kennebec River.

As Wayne Davis, dean of the state’s passenger rail fans at TrainRiders Northeast, puts it, “Once you get to Brunswick, you can go almost anywhere in Maine.”

“It could be a while before the Brunswick connection will happen – but maybe not as long as one might think,” Ron Roy said. At the moment, Brunswick is still debating – as it has been for several years – the Village Green project that’s projected to include a train station in the heart of downtown, opposite the Bowdoin College campus. The station would certainly be nice to have, Roy said, but to make things work, Maine will need significant federal funding and upgrades of both the Guilford-Pan Am tracks and, to go to Lewiston-Auburn, the Montreal & Atlantic line. MaineDOT prefers to do this in one comprehensive study, and it now has federal authority to study ridership and do preliminary engineering.

“If you look at our population alone, 1.3 million spread out over a vast area,” Roy said, “it’s not encouraging.” Once you factor in the huge jump in seasonal population along the coast, and Maine’s ringing success with the Downeaster, and the odds with the Federal Transit Administration could swing in Maine’s favor, he said.

If the ridership study and congestion in the Interstate 295 corridor – expected to increase even with the planned widening of the Maine Turnpike west of Portland – show that passenger trains can be successful, Maine could be working on the railroad again in three or four years. “There are a lot of ‘ifs,’ and a lot of competition,” Roy said. “We’re going up against Los Angeles and Boston and New York.” But it could happen, and more quickly than the initially lengthy process to get the Downeaster rolling.

There seems general agreement that having trains leads to more trains. “States where rail is visible make it a lot easier for new lines to succeed,” Roy said. Attracting reputable rail companies like the Morristown & Erie and nourishing the ambitions of dedicated amateurs like Tom Testa all seems to be part of a process that, slowly but surely, is bringing back a transportation asset that seemed all but lost 20 years ago.

“The corridors are still there. They have value, and that value can only increase with time as transportation demands continue to increase,” said Roy.

Future connections
An $80,000 rail study, funded by a bill sponsored by Senator William Diamond (D-Windham) and passed by the legislature in June, will look at renewing service on the Mountain Division line that runs from Portland to Fryeburg and on to the New Hampshire line. At the other end of that line is the Conway Scenic Railroad operation; in between is an aweinspiring stretch of track through Crawford Notch of the White Mountains that could host more occasional excursions from the Conway end.

Roy said that the greatest initial value of the Mountain Division, if service proves feasible, would be for freight. “There’s a lot of tonnage that could move that way,” he said, as contrasted with the coastal section of the Calais Branch, where the largest existing potential customer, the Domtar mill in Baileyville, just shut down its paper machine to concentrate on pulp operations. Still, the Mountain Division “runs past the Jetport and into town. It does have possibilities for commuter rail,” Roy said.

In Ellsworth, Tom Testa is not exactly advocating an “if you build it, they will come” philosophy, but he says that putting trains back on the tracks could have consequences that no one can now foresee. As fuel prices and commodity prices continue to climb, the energy-efficiency and clean air advantages of rail cannot be overlooked. Passenger trains are now rolling in Maine, carrying many thousands of riders every year. That fact alone makes the future more appealing both for seasoned operators and those who start with a dream. “We wouldn’t be trying this if we didn’t think it had a good chance of success,” said Testa.


Member News
Pave of the future. Maine Asphalt Pavement Association follows mission of education in a fast-changing industry.

By Kathryn Buxton

To hear Ted Crooker tell it, it all began with Superpave. Crooker, one of the founders of the Maine Asphalt Pavement Association (MAPA) and vice president of Harry C. Crooker & Sons, credits the paving system for helping to spur a revolution of new technology and innovation in the industry. “Paving – and the whole construction industry – has become so specialized,” said Crooker, and that, in turn, has increased the need for education. That is why a handful of leading Maine paving contractors decided to establish MAPA seven years ago.

“So much goes into paving state jobs these days,” said Frank Carroll Jr., of F.R. Carroll, Inc., a concrete and asphalt paving operation out of Limerick. The firm was an early MAPA member and remains a strong supporter of the organization. Carroll said that Superpave really marked the advent of a major wave of innovation in the industry. “We have better tools to do a better job with these days,” said Carroll who sees MAPA as an important way to bring all the parties to the table and to discuss how new techniques and innovations can be incorporated most effectively on the job. Not so simple

The genesis for this changing focus in paving goes back to 1987 and the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP). SHRP was a $150 million, five-year research effort funded by the Federal Highway Administration to improve the durability and performance of the nation’s roads. While the program looked at all kinds of roadway materials and maintenance – including concrete materials, structures and pavement maintenance practices and various asphalt paving techniques – a major outcome of the study was the development of the Superpave system.

“Superpave” stands for “superior performing asphalt pavements.” Superpave developed over five years and rolled out during the early 1990s. MaineDOT was an early adopter of the Superpave system. By 1998, Maine was one of 17 states that wholeheartedly implemented the system. That year, the state used the Superpave system to specify and build 100 of its large-scale asphalt paving projects. Today, Superpave is fully integrated into the department’s highway and bridge deck paving program.

Still, some Maine municipalities have not yet updated their maintenance programs to reflect the new standard. While the name “Superpave” implies a single, one-size-fits-all solution, it really is a complex system of specifications, design methods and asphalt prediction models that determine the hot mix used on a particular paving project. Even within those seemingly tight parameters, there can be significant variations that affect the performance of a particular paving project. Superpave can be a coarse or a fine mix (the national trend is toward a finer mix). On the contractor’s end of the equation, a multitude of factors play major roles, from the binder used, to the temperature of the mix and to the position of the roller behind the paver. Much also depends on the equipment that contractors use and how effectively that equipment is used.

Ted Crooker said that having access to the latest information and newest techniques can significantly extend the performance of an asphalt paving project. “Knowing what’s out there and how to use it really makes a difference,” said Crooker.

Knowledge is power
A primary goal of MAPA is to provide a forum where contractors, suppliers and state and municipal officials can come together to talk about issues, learn about advances in the industry and find mutual solutions to the challenges of paving in a cold climate. The group has held partnering sessions with MaineDOT to address quality control issues and other industry concerns. MAPA also hosts an annual seminar in the spring every year, just before the paving season begins. The sessions, led by nationally recognized pavement experts, is a great opportunity to catch up on the latest techniques and other innovations in the industry. The seminar has become a “must-attend” event in the paving community. Last year nearly 200 attended, some traveling from as far away as Newfoundland and New Brunswick, Canada. This year, MAPA is adding a third day of speakers tailored to municipal issues, and MAPA hopes to attract more public works personnel to the event. The lead speaker will be John Ball of Top Quality Paving & Training, a New Hampshire based consultant who has worked on projects throughout the country. He will be joined by Jeff Richmond of Astec Industries’ mobile paving division and Chuck Deahl of BoMag Americas. “We call ourselves the three amigos and we represent the full spectrum. I’m really looking forward to the question and answer session,” said Ball, who recently joined the MAPA board of directors. One key session will feature a top-to-bottom exploration of aggregate production and how asphalt mix is manufactured. MAPA Secretary/Treasurer Larry Hutchins of SemMaterials LP thinks this will be of particular interest to public works personnel who often haven’t had the chance to look behind the scenes. Hutchins, an MBTA board member, believes knowledge is power, and the sessions also will give municipal employees involved in road maintenance a better understanding of pavement processes that should help as they prepare to put their 2008 town paving projects out to bid.

“Making the right decision at the right moment can save a town a lot of money,” asserted Hutchins. He noted the MAPA event gives attendees the tools they need to make those critical decisions. MAPA’s new Executive Director Charles Banks also believes there’s a lot of value in the informal atmosphere of the seminar that can turn lunch or coffee breaks into in-depth question-and-answer sessions. “The speakers we bring in have worked on projects all over the country – and the world – and to be able to ask questions and talk one-on-one with these people is really amazing,” said Banks.

After Superpave
Where the paving industry goes in the future, all agree, will be largely dependent on building stronger partnerships between the officials in charge of maintaining the state’s public roads and the industry that paves those roads. Nationally, good communications on both sides of the street have led to new ideas and policies that are showing great promise. Jim Scherocman, another nationally known paving consultant who has spoken at past MAPA seminars and consulted with MAPA on partnering issues, sees several significant trends on the horizon. “RAP is gaining a lot of attention,” said Scherocman. “That stands for ‘reclaimed asphalt pavement,’ and a lot of states, where good aggregate material isn’t as abundant as it is in Maine, are looking at that as a way of saving money.”

He said “warm mix” where asphalt is produced and placed at lower temperatures is another trend getting attention. While proponents talk about its lower energy costs and lower emissions, there is some concern that all the moisture may not be removed from the aggregate during the drying process due to the lower mixing temperature. He warns that the jury is still out on the product and that long-term testing in colder climates like Maine has yet to be completed. One of the most promising trends is the use of warranties, a concept that originated in Europe and now is being used on jobs in several states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado and Michigan. With pavement warranties, the government agency or municipality determines the design of a project, but leaves the contractor to implement the design using best practices. The contractor guarantees the quality and performance of the pavement it builds for between one and 10 years, depending on the design and type of the project.

“It’s like design-build – it really brings out the best in the process and gives contractors the opportunity to be efficient and do what they do best. That can be hard to do under the old spec process,” said Scherocman, where contracts can have an enormous amount of superfluous detail, sometimes right down to the size of the roller required. The practice is still in its formative stages, but the early reports are that it has helped states save money and get better performance from warrantied projects.

“Most states have been very happy with the results,” said Scherocman who has consulted on warrantied projects in several states. He estimates some states now warranty as much as 75 percent of all of their major asphalt paving contracts.

MAPA’s Hutchins said that it is by sharing newer ideas like recycling and warranties that the process in Maine will improve. “That’s the goal – to get the best possible product and in the end everyone benefits; it’s good for the state, it’s good for the towns, it’s good for the taxpayers and that’s good for the contractors,” said Hutchins. Frank Carroll agrees and said that MAPA is there to help the state and the paving industry rise to the challenge. “The main thing is education and training and to be a voice in the industry,” said Carroll. “We’re here to find the best, most efficient and cost-effective ways to build good roads for people to drive safely over.”

Maine Asphalt Pavement Association

The mission
“To encourage and promote the safe and environmentally sound use of bituminous asphalt products throughout the State of Maine. MAPA is an advocate for a unified industry voice and provides a forum for advancing teamwork and the education process within the asphalt industry, our clients and the driving public, and through this proactive process, provide the best, most economical, enhancements to Maine’s transportation infrastructure.”

The big event
5th Annual Spring Paving Seminar, March 26-28 at Verrillo’s Convention Center in Portland. A must-attend event for state and municipal employees, engineers, architects and paving contractors. Learn about the latest techniques and trends in aggregate properties and other aspects of the paving process.

For more information
Visit www.maine-apa.org or call MAPA ExecutiveDirector Charles Banks at 207-838-1379.


Conversations with the committee
This is second in Maine Trails’ series of interviews with members of the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation. In this issue, we talk with Senator William Diamond, a three-term member of the committee, and recently appointed members Representatives Charles Ken Theriault and Kimberly Rosen about transportation in Maine, the funding challenges on the state level and what their vision is for the future of our transportation system.

Senator Bill Diamond (D-Windham)
Senator Diamond has had a long career in public service that has included three terms in the Maine House of Representatives and three terms in the Maine Senate. He also served a stint as Maine’s secretary of state from 1989 to 1997; he’s owned a newspaper and several other businesses; he was the former director of governmental relations for the Elan Corporation; and he’s been a teacher, principal and superintendent for 18 years in the Raymond school system. Diamond received his bachelor of science degree from Gorham State College, a masters degree from the University of Southern Maine and has done graduate work at the University of New England. He is president of the Windham Land Trust, on the board of Hospice of Southern Maine and a member of the Windham Historical Society. He and his wife Jane have two grown daughters.

How long have you served on the Transportation Committee?
I served on the committee from 1984-1986 and then served on it during the last session – so five years.

Do you serve on other committees?
Yes. I’m the senate chair of Criminal Justice and Public Safety. That’s a very active committee that deals with very sensitive issues like OUI’s, guns, jails and sex offenders, so in comparison Transportation is relatively low key.

Why did you want this committee assignment?
Transportation is a very interesting committee. It was in the ‘80s when I first served on it, and it hasn’t changed since that time. Transportation is an important issue for my constituency, so being on the committee is very beneficial to the people who elected me.

What is the one thing that you would like to see changed/enacted/achieved regarding Maine’s transportation system during your term?
Maybe to create better awareness of the benefits of rail and how it helps our communities – particularly the potential for commuters and for freight. I sponsored a bill that funds a feasibility study for reviving the Mountain Division Rail Line. The line could be a big boon to the whole area and a big piece of our economic success.

What will be the biggest challenge to achieving that?
Sometimes rail is treated like a novelty. So, in order to revive the rail line, we’ll need to build awareness of its potential and follow that up with the funding piece. But I think the Mountain Division line could be the poster boy for other parts of the state, a shining example of the benefits of rail.

How would you describe the state of transportation in Maine today?
I think our transportation system is really just getting by and meeting its minimal goals. To get beyond that, we need to have a willingness to think outside the box and look at what we need to do – not just what’s required, but also what’s needed.

If you had the ability to change one aspect of Maine’s transportation system with the wave of a wand, what would it be?
Probably that would be to have a more stable, steadier funding system.

Did you support LD 1790? What do you think are the best prospects or strategies for getting the bill funded?
I opposed it in committee, but supported it after it was amended in the Senate. I think we need more study of the funding piece – we’re not ready to make that change yet. One way to fund it will be to redesign the gas tax to make it a percentage rather than a flat, per-gallon fee. I don’t think that will get us all of that $160 million they say we will need, but we shouldn’t get discouraged. We should keep working on it. Earlier this year, an OPEGA study was released that suggested the Highway Fund should pay between 17 and 34 percent of the State Police budget versus the 60 percent it is currently paying.

Do you support having the General Fund pay a higher percentage of the State Police budget?
Only if the Maine Legislature looks at it and discusses it more closely. It wouldn’t be right for us to jump in and make that change without more study.

How many vehicles with wheels do you and your family own?
One SUV, one sedan. That’s all we have with wheels.

How do you get to Boston?
Usually we drive, unless it’s a hockey game and then sometimes we’ll take the Downeaster. The train takes you right there and then leaves right after the game.

In your daily travels, what is the worst road you travel on? What’s the best?
The best road is the Maine Turnpike on all sections and in all seasons. It’s the absolute best. The worst is portions of Route 202, probably from Windham to Gray. It’s not that the road is in bad shape, it’s that it hasn’t been widened and the traffic is heavy.

Do you have a favorite scenic route?
Route 121 and Quaker Ridge Road in Casco. That goes up Quaker Hill and from there you can see the entire Sebago area. And Route 113 in Standish near the Water District with the views of Sebago Lake.

Do you have a vision of what transportation in Maine will look like in 20 years?
There’s what I hope it will be and what I’m afraid it will be. I’m afraid that the funding piece will not get resolved, and we’ll end up not having the resources we need to take care of our transportation system. Having a steady, reliable source of funding is very important to the long-term future of our infrastructure. Because the department can’t plan on much, if they can’t count on having the funding to do the work that needs to be done.

Representative Charles Ken Theriault (D-Madawaska)
Charles Ken Theriault retired recently after working 40 years in the paper industry in Madawaska where he also served as a union officer. Rep. Theriault introduced five bills during his first session dealing with a wide range of issues, from hunting to public access at Glazier Lake to a new border crossing bridge near St. David. He is a former Little League and Pony League coach and worked to fund and build the Madawaska Little League Field. He is a past chair of the Acadian Festival in Madawaska and served on festival committees for many years. He has been a United Way of Aroostook board member. He presently is a director of La Maission Acadienne, the Madawaska Snowmobile Club and the International Snowmobile Festival held in Madawaska. He also has volunteered for the Fort Kent Biathlon and dogsled races. Theriault and his wife, Patsy, have two children and four grandchildren.

How long have you served on the Transportation Committee?
This is my first session, so I’ve been on the committee for nine months.

Do you serve on other committees?
No, I’m on Transportation. That’s my dedicated committee right now.

Why did you want this committee assignment?
Transportation is a very important segment of our economy, and our transportation infrastructure is one of the more important issues. Because no matter where you live, you need to ride the highway to get where you want to go.

What is the one thing that you would like to see changed/enacted/ achieved regarding Maine’s transportation system during your term?
I guess one of the items is to be able to raise more income for the Highway Fund. The fuel tax dollars Maine collects are not able to sustain the needs of our highways, bridges, ferries, trains and other means of transportation.

Another thing that would be important for the people up here is a new bridge and border crossing. I put in a bill requesting funding for an environmental impact study, and we have to see if the Canadians are willing to work with us on that issue. The bridge might be somewhere in the Madawaska area. They are looking at upgrading the border crossing, and the people here would like to see a new, more commercial entry. But real estate is very tight where the bridge is now located near the Frasier mill property. A new bridge would connect us to the Trans Canada highway and with all the ship traffic that comes up the seaway.

What will be the biggest challenge to achieving those things?
The challenge for the international bridge will be at the federal level. If you have people working for you, politicians – not only myself, but others – it can happen, but it will take time. It’s the same for the North-South Highway that people have been talking about or getting a higher weight limit for trucks on the interstate. These are the large issues, and you can’t afford to be dormant on them. That’s the challenge: you need to keep up the pressure, because you want to keep our businesses open and our products competitive. How would you describe the state of transportation in Maine today? Our state is so large, and we have so many miles of highways and bridges to upkeep, it can be mind-boggling. And the bigger anything thing is, the more complex it is. Making sure we have the ways and means to maintain it is the challenge. We are not in the position to be in the laissez faire attitude. The past funding was sufficient then, but our needs are different now.

If you had the ability to change one aspect of Maine’s transportation system with the wave of a wand, what would it be?
There are other issues I’m very concerned about. With the wave of talk about a new North- South Highway and the East-West Highway, we need to talk about having weight limits on trucks raised to 100,000 lbs. It would promote commerce, and that would be good for Maine.

Did you support LD 1790? What do you think are the best prospects or strategies for getting the bill funded?
That’s a tough one. Yes, I did support LD 1790. To get it funded, I think we have to look at certain issues such as changes in title fees and how we pay for the State Police. That’s one of the things that’s going to be looked into by a special committee.

Earlier this year, an OPEGA study was released that suggested the Highway Fund should pay between 17 and 34 percent of the State Police budget versus the 60 percent it is currently paying. Do you support having the General Fund pay a higher percentage of the State Police budget?
I would support that. I think the General Fund should pay more. As to what that amount should be, I don’t know. I don’t have all the information, but I do know there’s got to be some changes somewhere. We have to start somewhere.

How many vehicles with wheels do you and your family own?
We have a truck and a car. We have one pick-up that is not registered – and it is in storage. Right now, there are three bicycles on the porch (two belong to my grandchildren). We have two snowmobiles, though those don’t have wheels, and two tractors. I may have a few more bicycles in the garage. I’m a pedal tractor and car collector, too, and I have 25 of those, including a 1941 pedal airplane and a 1957 GMC pedal truck.

How do you get to Boston?
I haven’t been there too much lately, but when I go to Logan Airport, I drive. My wife is from Texas and we used to fly out of there quite often. Now, we mostly drive to Bangor for flights or to Portland. When I was younger, I went by bus and sometimes I flew from Presque Isle.

In your daily travels, what is the worst road you travel on? What’s the best?
There are sections of Route 1, Route 11 and Route 161 that don’t have shoulders or paved bike lanes. We get quite a lot of cyclists, and it can be dangerous. The best is I-95 to Augusta.

Do you have a favorite scenic route?
I like Route 1 and Routes 11 and 161. I’m originally from the area around Wallagrass, and I like driving in the St. John Valley. There’s a road off of Route 1 in Frenchville called Starbarn Road that puts you right up on a hill so you can see the Valley and the river. The Flat Mountain Road is very scenic in St. Agatha – and, of course, Route 161 leading up to the Allagash.

Do you have a vision of what transportation in Maine will look like in 20 years?
That’s a tough one. I envision more mass transit further south in the state. I don’t think there will be a choice unless we hit oil. In the rural areas, I don’t think we’ll have many new highways, but that the highways we have will be better than they are now.

Representative Kimberley Rosen (R-Bucksport)
Representative Kimberley Rosen is a beautician ,business owner, water color artist, wife and mother. She currently is the eastern director for Women in Government, a national organization that provides leadership opportunities, networking, expert forums and educational resources to state legislators. Her legislative priorities are to control state spending, reform government and reduce health care costs. Rosen is a graduate of Southern Aroostook High School and the D’Lor Beauty School, and she attended the University of Maine as a non-traditional student, studying business and art. She and her husband, Senator Richard Rosen, are one of two couples concurrently serving in the state house. They have two adult children. She was was born in Island Falls, Maine.

How long have you served on the Transportation Committee?
This is my first term on Transportation.

How long have you served on the Transportation Committee?
This is my first term on Transportation.

Do you serve on other committees?
I was on Natural Resources during my first term. I’ve served on a select committee dealing with the unorganized territory and this term I have been appointed to a select committee dealing with state police funding.

Why did you want this committee assignment?
Transportation was my number one choice. As a legislator, I am very concerned about the condition of the entire transportation system in Maine.

What is the one thing that you would like to see changed/enacted/achieved regarding Maine's transportation system during your term?
The one thing would be eliminating the utility poles and moving all the cables and wiring underground.

What will be the biggest challenge to achieving that?
It will be expensive to move that all underground, but I think safety will improve for all motorists.

How would you describe the state of transportation in Maine today?
We need to upgrade our entire transportation network.

If you had the ability to change one aspect of Maine's transportation system with the wave of a wand, what would it be?
I would improve road safety, enhance bike lanes and put utility wires underground.

id you support LD 1790? What do you think are the best prospects or strategy for getting the bill funded?
I did vote for it – and to study better ways to fund transportation. I don’t want to raise new taxes. I would like to see more funding from the state’s General Fund for transportation.

Earlier this year, an OPEGA study was released that suggested the Highway Fund should pay between 17-34 percent of the State Police budget versus the 60 percent it is currently paying. Do you support having the General Fund pay a higher percentage of the State Police budget?
We are working on that right now and should have a study and recommendations on that for the legislature later this year. So yes, I do support that.

How many vehicles with wheels do you and your family own?
We have two four-wheelers, one motorcycle and four vehicles – a minivan, an SUV and two sedans. Oh, and we have one bicycle (my daughter’s) and one unicycle (my son’s).

How do you get to Boston?
Usually on I-95 by car. I’ve gone by bus and taken the train from Portland and fly from Bangor and Trenton.

In your daily travels, what is the worst road you travel on? What's the best?
Years ago, Route 3 to Augusta used to be bad, but the D.O.T. has improved the road and it’s much better. Route 1 is a traffic challenge during the summer.

Do you have a favorite scenic route?
US Route 1, it’s our most beautiful area. And I’ve been taking a lot of people to the new bridge and observatory (Penobscot Narrows), and they are just as amazed by Fort Knox. That’s been a wonderful thing about the new bridge – how it turned the spotlight on the fort.

Do you have a vision of what transportation in Maine will look like in 20 years?
In the near future we need safer highways and vehicles to reduce the terrible injuries and loss of life we see today. We have the technology and the equipment, but it’s going to take some work.

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