A privilege to lead
By Lauren Corey, MBTA President
It makes me more than a little sad to say that this is my last column as president. It was a privilege to have been chosen to lead this organization at such an exciting time. I am especially grateful for all of the amazing support that I received from the MBTA board and other members over the past year.
This is a group that is not afraid of hard work and making your opinions known. Those are two characteristics that worked to the MBTA’s advantage this past year as we tackled an ambitious set of goals. And by doing your part so well, you make leading this organization such a pleasure.
When I started my term last year, I said we were going to focus on three items. The first was to follow through on our strategic plan; the second was to increase membership participation as it relates to the goals of our plan; and the third was to better monitor our investments in the educational foundation and the infrastructure fund.
I am pleased to report that with your help, we have improved our efforts in all three areas. In the past year, our Infrastructure Fund balances have grown significantly from $400,000 to $450,000. Our Educational Foundation fund has grown from $260,000 last year to over $300,000 today. And our legislative and outreach efforts have been successful, as well.
I am particularly fortunate to end my term at a time when we had so many legislative successes. Last year we created LD 1790: “An Act to Secure Maine’s Transportation Future.” We were thrilled the governor and the legislature took to heart the goals in 1790 this year when they passed three different funding measures totaling more than $250 million in new funding for bridges, rail and highways. (See “Transportation at center stage,” page 19).
I liken what has happened in the last two years to the challenge of planting a garden in the most adverse conditions, tending it tirelessly, and finally seeing the sun shining on some seedlings. Many thanks to everybody who helped pass these measures, most notably the governor and several members of leadership, along with the Transportation Committee, led by two excellent chairs – Senator Dennis Damon, the lead sponsor and champion of 1790, and Representative Boyd Marley. And I especially want to thank John Melrose and Maria Fuentes for their endless work on both 1790 and the passage of the funding measures. What most would have considered impossible was made possible by them and the collective will of others, some of whom are mentioned above and others who are not, that are too countless to name.
The garden must continue to be tended. Last June we spearheaded the transportation bond campaign that passed convincingly with voters. The bond package has a second component that we will be voting on in June. The June bond includes $10 million for highways and $13 million for ferry services, trails, rail and transit. Please be sure to tell your family, neighbors and friends about this important measure. It is the only bond issue on the ballot and has been combined with smaller bonds for natural resources and agriculture. (See “Transportation bond on the ballot,” page 17). We will need your help in ensuring voters know of this important bond on the June 10 ballot.
As I look back over the year, I think that the public and the legislature are more aware today of the tremendous challenges with our transportation system before us than they were even a year ago. The legislature really stepped up to the plate, and leadership insisted that transportation investment be used as a stimulus package for the state. We are very grateful to them for that, and we thank our partners, most notably AGC Maine who helped shepherd these important initiatives that will result in a strong boost to the economy.
In addition to our policy work, we had some great events in the past year: our summer meetings last year in Eastport and Presque Isle, our golf tournament and convention, and the Transportation Conference we co-sponsored with MaineDOT and ASCE. We take seriously the item in our strategic plan that reminds us to “have fun.”
But what I have enjoyed most is meeting so many new friends through this job, and strengthening some old friendships. The last thing I want to say is thank you: to all the dedicated members and volunteers that make up this association, and to the legislators and partners at Maine Turnpike Authority and MaineDOT and other associations. I also want to thank the board members, who always stepped in whenever we needed them, and our staff: Maria, Kathryn, Joyce and Deanna. As always, they have been great. And I want to thank my employer, Macdonald Page, not only for their support in providing me this opportunity, but for their generous support of the MBTA over the years. Last but not least, I want to thank my husband Brian and son Owen for their support and understanding. They have come to love my friends at MBTA as much as I!
I know I am leaving the MBTA in good hands with Greg Dore at the helm. Greg has been a tireless advocate for transportation and a public servant for many years. In the next issue, you will hear a lot more about him. I wish him the best of luck and know he will do a great job for you. Have a great summer, and I hope to see you at an upcoming event.