Maine Trails, December '07 - January '08
Inside Cover
President's Message
Cover Story: Three Mainers who have kept the state
Member News: Two for the road
Conversations with the Committee
An old dream gets a new face
Association News: Challenges and opportunities

President’s Message
Tired of talking about bridges?
Get ready for more talk of failing bridges and highways. By Lauren Corey

Cover Story
Three who have kept Maine moving.
11th Maine Transportation Awards. By Douglas Rooks

Maine News
Conversations with the Committee.
Maine Trails talks with Reps. Hogan and Mazurek. By Maria Fuentes

Old dream, new face.
Cianbro’s Peter Vigue talks about his vision for an East-West Highway.
By Doug Rooks

Association News
Challenges and opportunities.
International perspectives broaden state outlook at 57th Maine Transportation Conference. By Kathryn Buxton

Member News
Two for the road.
Family tradition continues at Central Equipment Company and White Sign.
By Kathryn Buxton

President's Message
Tired of talking about bridges? Get ready for more talk of failing bridges and highways.

By Lauren Corey, MBTA President

This year, particularly since August, we have spent a lot of our time talking and thinking about bridges. After Governor Baldacci’s bridge report, released in late November, I am sure we will be hearing and discussing them a lot more in the coming year.

At least we should be.

The report, prepared by a distinguished panel of engineers from MaineDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the University of Maine and the private sector, found that while Maine’s bridges are safe, it will take a lot of money and/or sacrifice on the part of Maine people to keep them that way. At the Maine Transportation Conference in early December, MaineDOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note laid out our options succinctly: “Pay or post.”

After more than a decade of declining transportation funding, this stark reality only now is beginning to take hold in the public mind, in part due to the tragic collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis this past August. Governor Baldacci acted swiftly following the collapse, and issued an executive order asking for a report on Maine’s bridges. Specifically, he asked whether Maine’s bridge program was adequate, and wanted to know what more could be done to ensure public safety.

Two days after the tragedy, the governor pledged to propose additional funding for bridges if weaknesses are found during the upcoming review of bridges. His comment to the Portland Press Herald on August 3 was: “Whatever their recommendations are, that is going to be the plan that I put forward.”

The governor’s report, titled “Keeping Our Bridges Safe,” offers a glimpse at the enormous resources that it will take – $130 million dollars a year – to keep our bridges safe. That is $50-$60 million more than what is currently being funded. We are anxious to work with the governor and legislators to develop a package that begins to address the crisis with our bridges.

That’s the money part. Here is the sacrifice part.

If we don’t come up with that money, we can expect to see more bridge closures and postings. A lot more. Just a few weeks ago, MaineDOT released a new watch list of bridges, increasing the number of vulnerable bridges in need of repair or replacement by almost 100. Today, there are 386 bridges at risk, when there were 288 last year. At the time, I remember thinking that was an enormous number.

The new watch list is even more awe-inspiring: a full 14 percent of Maine bridges are in critical need of repair or replacement.

The governor’s report hints that many more bridges could soon join the ranks of those ailing bridges (see “Dropping the other shoe,” page 21). We have hundreds of bridges identified as vulnerable to scour – the leading cause of bridge failure. We also have a significant number with fracture critical connections, the second leading cause of bridge failure. To further stack the deck against us, we have an enormous number of older bridges. Even if we are able to double the funding dedicated to Maine’s bridge program, MaineDOT undoubtedly will be forced to close or post more bridges.

In “Keeping Our Bridges Safe,” the department states a goal of replacing bridges at an average age of 80 years. The majority of Maine’s bridges were built with a projected lifespan of 50 years. Through its maintenance program, MaineDOT has been able to extend the life of many bridges. However, 80 years is a generous assumption when you consider that other states expect their bridges to last 50 years, as does the Maine Turnpike Authority.

Still, replacement at 80 years is a very optimistic goal. According to the MaineDOT’s draft long-range plan: “At the current replacement rate of 14 bridges per year, bridge life expectancy would need to be 185 years.” That plan calls for replacing 32 bridges per year.

“Keeping Our Bridges Safe,” completed just a few months later, ups the ante. It calls for the state to “increase bridge replacements from approximately 14 per year today, to between 30 and 40.”

If we don’t come up with the money, what will all of those postings and closings mean?

Once again, this is about sacrifice – sacrificing safety and prosperity. All we have to do is to look at history. Maine’s economy was ushered into the modern age just about the same time that the first of those bridges were constructed. Maine communities benefited even more when the interstate was built. That is no coincidence. All of the bridges we build – and the roads connecting them – pave the way for a vibrant and growing economy. While closing and posting more bridges may not mean the dawn of a Dark Age in Maine, it will undoubtedly have a negative and lasting impact on our economy.

That’s our cue. The Maine Better Transportation Association and our members need to get to work. Everyone has given so much of their time and support during the past year, and I thank you. But we need to do more. Please talk with your family, neighbors, friends and business associates. Get them talking about bridges. Tell them to check MaineDOT’s new watch list to see what bridges they count on in their daily lives are at risk (we have it posted on our advocacy page at Encourage them to imagine how their lives will be if they can’t use those bridges any more. Urge them to weigh in on this important topic and to let their legislators know that we need to keep our bridges safe.

And I don’t need to tell you that bridges aren’t our only problem, although that is where the public focus is right now. We need to find a long-term, sustainable funding structure that our transportation system can depend on into the future. MBTA is committed to leading that charge.

Money is tight right now. Still, as history has shown us, capital investments in transportation infrastructure have the power to stimulate our economy and make life better for everyone in Maine.

I wish you and your families a happy 2008, and I look forward to seeing you all soon. MBTA has a full schedule of events planned. Thanks for all your good work in 2007. I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and getting to work in the New Year!

Cover Story: Three Mainers who have kept the state
Senator Christine Savage, Donald Raye and Walter Parady changed Maine transportation for the better

By Douglas Rooks

It was an emotional and inspiring evening. More than 200 friends, family and co-workers filled the banquet room of the Augusta Civic Center on November 2nd to pay homage to three individuals – a stateswoman, a financial expert and a career construction supervisor. All three winners of the 11th Maine Transportation Achievement Awards have made indelible contributions to transportation in Maine in very different ways. The Maine Better Transportation Association presents the awards every two years to individuals whose careers show a deep commitment, vision and leadership in the development of Maine’s transportation system.

MBTA President Lauren Corey opened the evening and welcomed the audience. Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors – a former state transportation commissioner and a past Transportation Achievement Award winner (1994) – was the evening’s master of ceremonies.

A pusher
Walter e. Parady was the first honoree of the evening, receiving his award from Herbert R. Sargent of Sargent Corp. Sargent is the grandson of Herbert E. Sargent, founder of H.E. Sargent and the man who gave Parady his first construction job. Parady first signed on with the firm in 1937, almost two full decades before President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 creating the U.S. Interstate system. Sargent talked about how Parady’s career spanned a major shift in the industry from a time when a deal or a job was sealed with a handshake to modern times when construction supervisors like Parady have to cope with liability issues, safety regulations and rigid performance specifications.

Parady’s first construction job at Sargent was at the Norridgewock Airport. It was wartime, and the project – improving the airport so that the military would have a place to land in an emergency – was considered a matter of national security. When work at the airport was complete, Parady decided to stay on with Sargent and remained with the firm, working through the years with three generations of Sargents, from founder H.E. Sargent, his son and successor Jim Sargent, to Sargent Corporation’s current president, Herb Sargent. Although Parady had no construction experience or related education, Walt proved well suited to the business. He took on additional duties with Sargent, working first as a cost accountant and a timekeeper, and then foreman.

By 1947, he was promoted to project superintendent and was soon put in charge of significant highway projects. Sargent was the only Maine dirt contractor working heavy grading contracts on the Turnpike Extension in 1953. Herb picked Parady to build both of the projects he picked up in Gray and Hallowell. Walt then went on to build many large I-95 grading contracts from Brunswick to Houlton, starting with the first Interstate job in Augusta in 1957. In late 1963, when Herb needed a “pusher” to go up in the winter and do the immense site work for the new International Paper mill in Jay, he called on Walt. In six months through the winter and spring Walt cleared and grubbed more than 100 acres and moved more than a million yards of tough dirt and rock.

In 1973 Herb again called on Walt to do the site work for the new Scott Paper mill in Skowhegan. Another big tough job under bad conditions, and Parady did it well. Throughout his 60-plus-year career with H.E. Sargent and later Sargent Corporation, Walt has been known among co-workers and clients as a natural leader and skillful problem solver who brought a wealth of onthe- job experience to every challenge encountered on the job. All the while, Sargent said, Parady played a key role on major infrastructure jobs that improved the mobility and quality of life for people throughout the state. During his career, Parady earned a reputation on the job as a “skillful problem-solver,” a “natural leader” and a “pusher” who could inspire crews to achieve excellence on the job, no matter the challenge. During the presentation, Sargent read a heartfelt letter from Parady’s daughter Jean Kelliher, who recounted the great pride her father took in his work and career as a builder of Maine’s most important highways. Sargent also thanked Parady for his hard work and dedication to excellence that had inspired so many others who came to work with the company over the years.

A persuader
Donald W. Raye was the second honoree of the evening, cheered on by a legion of family members and friends who laughed through a “roast” by Raye’s business partner and friend Beth L. Sturtevant – including a story about a skunk encamped under the porch of the Raye family home.

Between the fun and revealing anecdotes, Sturtevant painted a portrait of a loyal and dedicated individual who has done so much for Maine and its transportation system. Raye has worked with the MBTA and other industry groups for nearly three decades, giving selflessly of his time and talents. He was first recruited to join the board of the Maine Good Roads Association by Al Prince. Raye was an experienced CPA with many ties in the Maine community – and he turned out to be just the right person to help the financially struggling organization. Raye and the board arranged for a bank loan and developed a financial plan and budget to get the organization back on track. Maine Good Roads survived and, in 1983, was renamed the Maine Better Transportation Association.

Don served as president of MBTA from 1985-1986, and remained active on the board through 2005, serving on various committees including finance, legislative, convention and membership. Don also believed that the MBTA should do more to encourage young people to become involved in Maine’s transportation communi ty, and was instrumental in establishing the MBTA Educational Foundation as a separate non-profit entity. Today the foundation awards several transportation scholarships every year, and its assets have grown to more than $250,000.

Don continues to be a leader on the foundation’s board, as he has since its inception. Book smart and downto- earth with close ties to many diverse communities in the state, Raye has been an eloquent spokesman on transportation issues and has served as an advisor for several transportation organizations and educational foundations.

Back during the referendum campaigns to gain public approval for the widening of the Maine Turnpike in the 1990s, Don was part of the speaker’s bureau assigned to visit granges and service clubs throughout the state to speak on why “The Widening,” as it came to be known was a good thing for Maine.

Raye is the co-owner with Sturtevant of CCB, Inc., a Westbrook-based construction firm. He is a CPA by trade and earned his business degree from the Portland Business College, graduating in 1965. In addition to his work with the MBTA, Don has served on the board of the Construction Financial Management Association and the Associated Constructors of Maine. He has been a trustee of the ACM’s educational foundation. He also has been president of the Norway-Paris Kiwanis Club, a trustee of Norway Public Library, a corporator of Norway Savings Bank, and a founder and president of the Growth Council of Oxford Hills. He and his wife, Verna, have four daughters, one son and nine grandchildren. Many of his family were in proud attendance at the November 2 event. In accepting the award, Raye spoke of how much he has enjoyed working with the MBTA over the years. Raye’s words reflected the sense of community and purpose that he has brought to every effort he has undertaken as a member of the organization. “We have fun at the MBTA, but there also is a mission,” said Raye. He spoke of the continued need to push for investment in Maine’s transportation network.

“The challenge is greater than any other time in my 30 years.”

A leader
The final award of the evening went to Senator Christine R. Savage who is currently serving her fourth term in the Maine Senate and her sixth term on the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation. Savage’s daughter, Sandra, presented the award as several generations of the Savage family, as well as many of her fellow Transportation Committee and caucus members, looked on.

Sandra Savage presented a personal look at the public servant, describing her mother as a “quick learner” with a deep sense of right and wrong and a profound commitment to the people of Maine.

Savage was honored for being “a relentless champion for investment in Maine’s transportation infrastructure” during her 13-year legislative career and for her willingness to take “courageous stances” on issues she felt were important, regardless of political consequence. She has supported issues that have made Maine highways and bridges safer, including several transportation bond issues and other funding measures.

A Maine native, Savage has lived most of her life in District 22. She graduated from Union High School and still resides there today. About her background, she is characteristically modest, saying that “it isn’t very impressive.” Still, everyone who knows her will say that modesty, as well as her quiet intelligence, selflessness, strong work ethic and fundamental resolve are key to her success in championing issues of importance to her midcoast constituents and to citizens statewide. She began her working career in 1975 as the bookkeeper and office manager for the town of Camden. She served in that job for 16 years, including a short time as interim town manager. She spent five years as town manager of Warren, and in that position, her duties included serving as treasurer, tax collector and road commissioner. It was her experience as road commissioner that inspired the legislative leadership to ask her to serve on the Transportation Committee in 1994. She also has been co-chair of the Intergovernmental Advisory Commission and currently serves on Engrossed Bills and Conduct & Ethics, in addition to the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation. Savage will retire from the Maine Senate at the close of the 2008 session – because of “a silly law that says she must,” her daughter quipped during the presentation referring to Maine’s term limits law. Savage’s history and perspective have been invaluable to the Transportation Committee and the people of Maine. As a former road commissioner, she knows first hand the financial and practical challenges faced by municipalities as they strive to ensure that their roads are safe. As a long-time member of the Transportation Committee, her institutional memory and understanding of the Highway Fund and Maine Turnpike Authority budgets have been essential to fellow committee members and to the transportation community at large.

Once she puts herself behind an issue, she can be persistent. That was the case during the most recent session of the legislature when she introduced seatbelt safety legislation, “An Act to Make Failure to Wear a Seat Belt a Primary Offense.” She had introduced similar legislation two times before, and was undaunted when those two measures did not pass. In fact, she faced opposition from many corners – including from members of her own family – but she persisted. Passage of the bill is one of her proudest legislative achievements. Her daughter said her mother believed that no matter how harsh and personal that battle became, “it would all be worth it if there are lives to be saved.”

The MBTA presented each recipient with a framed antique map of Maine, as well as a gift. Music was provided by the UMA Cafe Jazz Ensemble. All proceeds of the event go to the MBTA Educational Foundation. The MBTA congratulates and thanks all of our Transportation Achievement Award members for their years of service, leadership and dedication. Thanks to you, Maine’s airports, rail, highways and bridges are safer and our communities are more connected!

Member News: Two for the road
Family continues the tradition at Central Equipment and White Sign.

By Kathryn Buxton

The story of how Central Equipment and White Sign were founded is a story of family, Yankee practicality and ingenuity. The two businesses, located in Stillwater, were born out of necessity and good business sense during the middle of the last century.

Although they have grown and changed with the times, they remain, at heart, a family-run operation where commitment and trust form the core of every job and every deal the two companies make. The roots of Central Equipment Company and White Sign are in the old H.E. Sargent, Inc. – the construction firm that Herbert E. Sargent founded in 1926. For three decades, the construction firm grew, fed by a steady diet of road and highway work as the state set about creating a network of modern highways connecting its forestry and manufacturing centers with the region.

A business decision
By the late 1950s, H.E. Sargent was one of the largest and most respected earth moving firms in Maine. That was when the family patriarch, Herbert E. Sargent, began to think it was time to make some changes. “He decided that it wasn’t good to have everything in one company,” said H.E. Sargent’s son-in-law, Ralph Leonard, who has been with Central Equipment since its inception in 1959.

Herb talked to his children who were co-owners of the company, and they agreed. They invested in a new start up – Central Equipment Company – making it the leasing agent for H.E. Sargent.

“That’s how we became dealers,” said Ralph, a West Point trained military officer who had come home after a stint in the service to work for the family construction company in 1956. He was put in charge of the new company, and this is how it worked: Central Equipment bought equipment – compactors, excavators, dozers, trailers and other heavy equipment that Sargent used on their job sites. Then they leased that equipment to the family’s construction company. The arrangement worked very well, and brands they have carried over the years – Atlas Copco, Rogers Brothers, Ingersoll Rand, Husky, Daewoo, Samsung and Liebherr – have all been top of the line and filled market niches that other dealers in the region did not cover.

“They have been lines of equipment that we thought would be useful,” said Ralph in a characteristically wry understatement. The lines were quite useful, and Central Equipment’s workhorse brands like Liebherr – considered “the Cadillac of excavators” – and other brands have found favor with other area contractors as well.

Floating new ideas
Along the way, the Sargent family also acquired White Canoe, a venerable manufacturer of wooden canoes that had been founded in nearby Old Town around the turn of the 20th century. Eventually the family sold off the inventory of canoes, but they kept the name for a new business venture, White Sign, launched in 1965. Again, the new business was born out of necessity and market demand. With con struction of the interstate in Maine gearing up, new federal safety regulations required contractors to post construction work zones with bright orange reflective signs. No one in Maine was making the new signs, and rather than pay a premium for signs from Massachusetts manufacturers, White Sign was born. The company soon began making signs for all of H.E. Sargent’s work sites and filling the demand for other contractors and municipalities throughout Maine. Today, White Sign is the largest commercial manufacturer of work zone and municipal street and traffic signs in the state.

As the two businesses grew, Ralph called upon his brother Dick Leonard, a former public school principal and district superintendent, to help out. Dick signed on in 1987 as the firms’ general manager, coordinating the different functions and managing the financials of Central Equipment and White Sign.

“That was quite a transition,” recounted Dick of the move from the public sector to the private. He said the pace was faster and remembers how, at the time, a new 5,000-square-foot addition was added to the Central Equipment/White Sign complex in just six months. “When I was superintendent, we had an addition built, and it took years.” Not that Dick didn’t have challenges in his new job. It was in the days before e-mail and digital file transfers, and while the two companies operated as separate entities, they were still very closely tied to the parent company H.E Sargent, Inc. Dick remembers the frequent walks to Sargent’s main office up the road to coordinate the two companies’ payroll that were done at the main office.

'Good to be here'
Family businesses present their own peculiar set of opportunities and issues, the greatest often in the succession from generation to generation. After two generations, big changes were on the horizon for H.E. Sargent. In 1989, the family sold the company to Razel, an international construction conglomerate with corporate headquarters in France. (Herbert R. Sargent, H.E’s grandson purchased the company back from Razel in 2005.) Not included in that sale were several of the holdings H.E. Sargent had established over the years – including Central Equipment and White Sign. Ralph and his wife Anita Leonard offered to buy the two companies from Anita’s siblings – an offer the family members accepted.

The Leonards then combined the two companies, making White Sign a division of Central Equipment. The change would be a difficult one with many uncertainties, but one that Ralph and Dick were eager to undertake. At that time, two employees joined Central Equipment/White Sign to help in the transition. Sandy Ferguson signed on to set up Central Equipment’s well-regarded parts and service division (she continues to head the parts department today). Jon Brisette also joined the company in 1989; he manages the sign shop that has grown in reputation and in reach over the years. “They do a super job,” said Dick adding that the family has been fortunate to have the talent and commitment of such a great staff.

In the years since 1989, Central Equipment has expanded its base of customers and coped with shifts within the industry. Several equipment manufacturers have been sold and consolidated. Husky, one of Central Equipment’s lines is no longer. Daewoo Heavy Equipment has become Doosan. In early 2007, Volvo purchased Ingersoll-Rand’s roadbuilding division; Ralph said that Central Equipment will continue to sell that line, even now that the sale is complete.

To guide Central Equipment through changing times, the Leonards have recruited other family members. Ralph’s son Kent also worked with Central Equipment, but left the business to follow his dream and run the Bluenose Inn in Bar Harbor. After he left, Ralph and Dick asked another family member, sonin- law Fred Reichel, to take over Central’s sales division. Reichel joined the company in 2004, but already had 15 years’ sales experience for hospital and medical equipment supply firms. “It’s good to be here,” said Fred who was more than glad to trade 18-hour days on the road for a more centralized territory and shorter – just 12-hour – days. The challenge he sees will be following the family tradition of reliable service as Maine’s construction market tightens.

Outside their offices in Stillwater, there is a long line of compactors and excavators resting in the snow, waiting for the 2008 construction season to begin. Reichel said that customers can continue to count on Central Equipment as a source for top-of-the-line equipment and service.

“We’ve got a quality name,” said Reichel. He said the company formula is a simple one, but one that will not change as long as he and other family members remain at the helm. “We offer a good piece of equipment at a competitive price and always follow up with good service.”

Ralph, Dick and Fred all are active advocates for the transportation industry and major supporters of the Maine Better Transportation Association. “Ralph is a past president of Maine Good Roads and a 1992 recipient of the Maine Transportation Achievement Award, MBTA’s highest honor.” Dick continues as business manager for the two companies. After nearly five decades, Ralph remains active in the company as CEO and president. He maintains a full schedule with Central Equipment and his other interests. He remains a liaison for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He also is an outspoken advocate for Maine’s businesses and sees the only way out of the state’s current economic trials is a cheaper source of energy (he is an advocate for nuclear energy) and to clear the roadblocks to businesses like Plum Creek that promise to bring new jobs and opportunity to the state. “The state of Maine is in serious trouble,” said Ralph. “We have a tendency to make it hard for businesses that want to bring jobs here.”

Conversations with the Committee
This is fourth in Maine Trails’ series of interviews with members of the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation. In this issue, we talk with Representatives George W. Hogan, Sr., and Edward J. Mazurek about transportation in Maine, the funding challenges on the state level and what their vision is for the future of our transportation system.

Representative George W. Hogan, Sr. (D-Old Orchard Beach)
Representative George Hogan ran Hogan’s Market in Old Orchard Beach for 30 years. He is equally well known as that community’s former high school football coach. A native of the beachside town, he has served on both the town council and local school board. This is his second term in the Maine Legislature representing District 132. He supports tax reform and increased support for Maine’s schools. He also counts the urgent need for investment in Maine’s transportation infrastructure as a top priority during this legislative term. He and his wife Faith have five children, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

How long have you served on the Transportation Committee?
I am entering the second year of my second term, so this will be my fourth year.

Do you serve on other committees?

Why did you want this committee assignment?
When I looked at the make-up of the committee, I saw there were very few from southern Maine. I also knew it was the only committee outside of Appropriations that has its own budget to work with.

What is the one thing that you would like to see changed/enacted/achieved regarding Maine’s transportation system during your term?
Truly, what we need to see is a sustainable source of revenue. It is not a lot of fun to be living under this intense pressure of always being under-funded and always having to cut projects in this crucial area of state government. We have cut over $200 million in projects recently, and it isn’t fun.

What will be the biggest challenge to achieving that?
As I see it, the biggest challenge is educating other legislators to the huge needs in transportation and to constantly remind them how transportation impacts their lives as well as their constituents’ lives on a daily basis. The economy, public safety, mobility – transportation in some way impacts virtually every component of our constituents’ lives.

How would you describe the state of transportation in Maine today?
On a scale of one to 10, I would give it maybe a six or a seven. In some areas we are doing better than others, otherwise it would be lower. For instance, air and marine are managing themselves, but we have a big problem in roads and bridges where we are falling behind. There is such a crucial need for more revenues, sustainable revenues. The MaineDOT and the Maine Turnpike Authority do the best they can, but we really can’t feel too good about it. In many areas we are running behind. We are posting more roads and bridges. When the state posts a road or a bridge, we are not doing it because we are keeping up with things. We do it because we are falling behind. That has got to change.

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 try to create less of a dependence on traveling by cars, and more of an emphasis on trains and buses. Our dependence on life the way it exists now isn’t working for us. An immediate need is to find the money for the operating subsidy for the Downeaster. The Downeaster is a very popular service, and it runs on time, but we are running up against a crucial funding problem.

Did you support LD 1790? If yes, what do you think are the best prospects or strategies for getting the bill funded? If no, why not?
Yes, absolutely. There have already been attempts to have it gutted. Again, what we need is much more education so legislators understand how critical it is for their lives. Education is key.

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?
Absolutely! That’s a constitutional issue that should be upheld by all of us.

How many vehicles with wheels do you and your family own?
We have one car.

How do you get to Boston?
When we go to Boston, we drive down.

In your daily travels, what is the worst road you travel on? What’s the best?
The worst road is Temple Avenue in Old Orchard Beach which runs from Old Orchard to Ocean Park. The best road is the spur coming out of Old Orchard Beach directly to the turnpike. I recently drove on Route 111 outside of Biddeford, and that is a road that needs a lot of work.

Do you have a favorite scenic route?
Excluding the beautiful view you get standing on the shore in Old Orchard and looking out at the ocean, I also enjoy a beautiful stretch of road in Cape Elizabeth, the Shore Road. As it leads to the ocean, you get gorgeous views – just like a postcard.

Do you have a vision of what transportation in Maine will look like in 20 years?
My vision would include sustainable funding for our roads and bridges and getting them up to par. Longer term, my vision would include a lot more rail. We should expand Amtrak and also expand freight rail. Funding is the biggest obstacle, it always is! MaineDOT is good at coming up with ideas, but we need the actual funding. If we wait until people really understand how critical the state’s bridges are, it may be too late. Already there are so many bridges that are posted or closed, and there will be more if we don’t come up with more money. I would like to envision that one day there would be a monorail system along the turnpike or another major corridor. It would allow pedestrians to get off at various stops and leave their car behind. I know this is futuristic, but we have to think outside the box – it is the only way we are going to survive in today’s world.

Representative Edward J. Mazurek (D-Rockland)
Representative Edward Mazurek is a former professional football player, coach and school teacher who cut his teeth in politics while serving on the Rockland City Council from 2002-2004, half of that time as mayor. As a two-term representative for District 47, his priorities are easing the tax burden, improving education and transportation. He is a legislative liaison for the Lobster Management Policy Council- Zone D and has served on the Coast Guard Committee for the City of Rockland. He is on the advisory board to FMC and on the board of directors to the Maine Lighthouse Museum. He and his wife Maryellen have five children and four grandchildren.

How long have you served on the Transportation Committee?
I am in my second term, about to begin my fourth year on the committee.

Do you serve on other committees?
Currently, I also serve on the Marine Resources Committee.

Why did you want this committee assignment?
The reason I wanted to be on the Transportation Committee is that I really believe it is one of the most important committees in the legislature because of the tremendous importance that transportation can have on this state. It is critical – what happens if we do it right and what happens if we don’t do it right. I want to make sure we do it right – that we keep people safe, keep people moving, keep freight moving – it impacts every citizen and every business in this state.

What is the one thing that you would like to see changed/enacted/ achieved regarding Maine’s transportation system during your term?
My broad goal is to somehow pass a solid piece of legislation that would ensure guaranteed funding over the next 10 to 20 or 30 years and not rely strictly on the fuel tax, which is just not going to be feasible and is not going to work in the short term. Having the fuel tax be our primary source of funding creates a gap that just keeps widening. I hope we can come up with a strong bill – something along the lines of 1790 – and make it effective so that it is not only a short-term but also a long-term policy. We have to do something so that we are not faced with the ongoing problems that we are currently facing.

What will be the biggest challenge to achieving that?
I think the biggest thing is to try to get the entire legislature to look beyond the short term and to look at the long-term problems that this state will have if our transportation system is not kept up to par. Because our committee deals with it on a daily basis, we recognize how critical transportation infrastructure and funding is. Some of the other legislators say it is important, but since they serve on different committees with different issues, they have other priorities. We need to make that goal of long-term funding a priority for all legislators in the House and in the Senate and even the executive branch. We need to educate them and let them know clearly what happens when our transportation system isn’t what it should be.

How would you describe the state of transportation in Maine today?
I would describe it as moderately effective. We hear a lot about how bad things are, how our bridges are getting older. Unfortunately, we do have a large group of bridges that were built 50 or 60 bridges ago, and they are all getting old at the same time. But if you look at our entire highway system, it is not as bad as some people project it to be. It is not as good as it could be, but the state has worked very hard to keep that transportation system on its feet. We are working with less and less all the time. Sometimes people cry wolf, but I don’t really think it is as bad as some would say.

If you had the ability to change one aspect of Maine’s transportation system with the wave of a wand, what would it be?
In the short term, I would open up the rail line from Portland to Brunswick so that Rockland can have direct access. It is vital that we extend passenger rail to Brunswick. It would help the midcoast tremendously, and it is a strong focus of mine. If I could, I would open up all our rail lines, put them in pristine condition and have rail become a major player in the state of Maine. I would open up all the rights of way, fix all the railroad bridges, and get all the stations up and running. I would use green machines and the new biofuel. I think we could do wonders if the state of Maine could get our rail system running.

Did you support LD 1790? If yes, what do you think are the best prospects or strategies for getting the bill funded? If no, why not?
Yes, I did support it. I think the most important thing we need to do is to show that it is a definite need. The entire legislature and the executive branch need to be educated to fund 1790, because it is a long-range plan and it is going into the future. This is so crucial because we always tend to operate in the short-term. LD 1790 sets out a program and funding for the next 25 years. How we get that funding is going to be the real challenge.

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?
Yes, I do. I would recommend that it go either 49/51 or 50/50 because I think that the Highway Fund is supporting the state police in areas that should come out of General Fund monies. A 50/50 split is good because one of the problems that even OPEGA had is that they couldn’t come up with a definite percentage – that is why they went with a range. It is hard to come up with a definite figure so I think 50/50 would be a good split that both sides could agree with.

How many vehicles with wheels do you and your family own?
We have two cars.

How do you get to Boston?
It depends on what we are going for. If we are going to Logan, we take the Concord Trail Lines to Portland and then the bus from Portland on in. Concord offers a tremendous service – you save on parking, aggravation, driving, wear and tear – they do a great job. If we go down to see a Patriots game, we typically drive down.

In your daily travels, what is the worst road you travel on? What’s the best?
The worst road is Old County Road in Rockland, although the worst road in the midcoast area is Route 52, from Lincolnville to Belfast. That road is in dire shape – it is probably one of the worst roads in the state. The best road is probably Route 17 which is really maintained fairly well.

Do you have a favorite scenic route?
I like the drive beginning in Camp Ellis in Saco, going up the coast. There are a lot of little turnoffs, lots of places where you can see the water. Close to home, we enjoy Route 131 in Port Clyde, which is another beautiful, scenic road.

Do you have a vision of what transportation in Maine will look like in 20 years?
Yes I do. I hope to see increased use of rail travel, and I think that is going to come. I would like to see more public transportation being introduced for people who commute. For example, driving back and forth from Rockland and Augusta, the line of cars coming in and going out is a steady stream. What I would like to see is a parking area up around Union and have buses running from there into Rockland, back and forth during the busy commuting hours. Buses would reduce the amount of traffic, reduce pollution, and be more efficient. I think those are some of the things that we have to look at. It CAN be done. One of the problems in Maine is that Mainers are so independent and so dependent on their own vehicles. They don’t understand that public transportation is convenient and can work. People, if they understood it, would like to have less congestion and participate in cleaning up the environment. That can be done through inter-town transportation systems and buses. Bath Iron Works is already doing it for their employees, with park and ride areas and commuter shuttles. We should be doing it in more areas.

An old dream gets a new face
Spinning the East-West Highway concept with a private twist

By Douglas Rooks

The idea of an east-west highway bisecting Maine has been around for a long time, and possible routes have been discussed at least since the 1970s. The most recent federal study, however, said that the highway’s economic benefits might not be sufficient to attract the necessary public funding – an estimated $1 billion.

Now, the CEO of Cianbro Corporation, Peter Vigue, has come up with an entirely different focus – a privately built toll road away from population centers, but following existing logging road corridors to minimize environmental impacts.

Vigue has been speaking across Maine and in Canada’s adjacent provinces about the private highway concept. Although he doesn’t yet have investors, he does have a date for completing the road: November 2014.

If that sounds ambitious, Vigue does have an ambitious track record. Cianbro is Maine’s largest construction company, with more than 2,000 employees and operations in 15 states. The company has taken on a variety of troubled, or even failed projects over the past decade and brought them to completion. Those projects include the highly visible oil drilling platforms finished in Portland Harbor, tanker hulls from the Gulf Coast and a bridge project in Connecticut. Talking about the project, Vigue makes it clear that he welcomes a challenge, and he considers the eastwest highway a logical step in bringing economic development to Maine.

“For too long we’ve been seeing ourselves at the end of the road,” he said. “We need to broaden our perspective, to really embrace the global economy. If we can do that, we can succeed.”

The trans-Maine highway responds to an obvious transportation bottleneck, he said. All the major interstate highways in Northern New England run north and south, including I-95, which connects Boston to Canada but leaves out the entire Midwest of both countries – Montreal and Toronto as well as Detroit and Chicago.

Because most Canadian trucks now detour all the way around Maine, north of the Saint John River, trips to the heartland from the Maritimes take four to five hours more than they should, he said. The economic analysis, he said, is simple. “It costs $100 an hour to operate a big rig, maybe more,” Vigue said. “A toll road that cuts that cost significantly can pay for itself.”

Vigue doesn’t dismiss the original idea of a road financed through state and federal funding, but he says the current routing is fraught with problems. “I just don’t think you can acquire the necessary right of way through these communities at an acceptable cost,” he said. He points to Route 2 west of Bangor, in particular. “Just look at how long it’s taken to site a bridge in Norridgewock, and it’s still not done.”

His preferred route is not untouched wilderness – it follows a route along existing logging roads through most of its 220-mile length – so it would be easier to permit and build within a $1 billion budget. He sees that as a realistic budget for his dream.

Since the route would run from the New Brunswick border across to Quebec at Coburn Gore, it wouldn’t require involvement from neighboring states. “I don’t think you could get a new road permitted in Vermont,” Vigue said. And around population centers in Maine, the same problems recur. “The Route 1 corridor along the midcoast is another example,” he said. “People don’t like all that truck traffic coming through their town. It’s better if we can move it elsewhere.”

The plan has caught the attention of transportation observers, from Maine and elsewhere. Dale Hanington, who heads the Maine Motor Transport Association, said “conceptually, it’s a great idea.” While the primary early users would undoubtedly be Canadian freight companies – “that’s really the target audience” – he said Maine truckers would make use of the road, and it could provide an opportunity for companies to expand and take advantage of the new linkages. The fact that trucks of 100,000 pounds or more, not currently permitted on I-95 north of Augusta, could freely operate on the new road is another significant attraction, he said.

Peter Samuel, who edits Toll Road News, an on-line publication observing and advocating for private road ownership, said Vigue’s approach is “probably the kind of thing needed to make it happen.” It would “save a lot of distance and time” for trucks, and he believes a major new road could also serve to attract tourists and other visitors. “You’ve got some great terrain for roads up there,” he said. “It’s not the flat, uninteresting miles we have in so much of the country.”

To make it work, Samuel said there would need to be a customs agreement between the U.S. and Canada to allow Canadian trucks passage without border inspections at both ends of the road. “If they have to stop twice, that eats up most of the time savings,” he said. “I’ve seen the queues in Buffalo (N.Y.) They’re horrendous.” Hanington agrees that customs would have to be streamlined, though he pointed out that much Canadian freight is already sealed, and e-invoices are now used in various ports. “That would have to be dealt with, for sure,” he said.

Hanington also observed that the time saving would be most significant for trucks routed north from St. John through Calais. For those traveling through Moncton from Nova Scotia, it would not be as great an advantage. While privately owned or operated toll roads have been making a modest comeback in the U.S., Samuel said there are few projects comparable to what Vigue is proposing. Indiana and Illinois have sold or leased existing toll roads to private operators, and two new tollways have recently opened in suburban areas north of Denver, Colorado, and San Diego, California. But those roads are less than 10 miles long.

The best analogy to the trans-Maine road would be Texas’ attempts to build two long new roads. One would parallel I-35 north from Dallas to the Oklahoma border, essentially a bypass of an overburdened interstate that can’t be easily widened. The other, known as I-69, would traverse most of the state from the northeast corner to Mexico, some 650 miles, with Houston as the hub. In its southern stretches – on which construction could start next year – it would replace a largely two-lane road, U.S. 77, from Corpus Christi to the Mexican border. “That’s a rural area with low population density and a lot of wetlands,” Samuel said – and the closest thing anywhere in the country to the territory Vigue would like the Maine east-west highway to cross. “I’m not familiar with all the details,” Samuel said. “But you have to admit it’s intriguing.”

Vigue’s vision is considerably more modest than the massive Trans-Texas Corridor; the two roads mentioned above are part of a 4,000-mile network estimated to cost between $145-$185 billion. Nevertheless, he still could have his work cut out for him. The Trans-Texas Corridor, under discussion since 2005, has been criticized broadly by environmentalists, trade protectionists and landowners fearing takings by eminent domain. So far the project has no investors.

At MaineDOT, officials are watching with interest. “The department has no official position on the plan,” said Herb Thomson, director of communications. “We’d like to know more, and are looking forward to any public meetings.”

Vigue sees the east-west corridor as more than a road, and more than just conventional economic development. “Around the world, you see what is known as a crossroads effect,” he said. “Anywhere you create new connections, activity and investment picks up as people realize new opportunities.”

The 2,000-foot-wide corridor he envisions would have plenty of room for telecommunications, electric transmission lines and pipelines, he said. Rail could also benefit. “We’ve seen tremendous growth in sector, because it’s the most efficient way to move things,” he said. Rail-truck connections would be possible at Costigan and Brownville, reviving communities that have lain dormant ever since rail lost its place as the nation’s premier mode of transportation.

“Rail and trucks see each other as competitors, just as trains and buses used to,” Vigue said. “What we all need to realize is how different modes of transportation complement each other. We have to make the pie bigger, not keep worrying over our slice of the pie.” A successful road project could also make ventures like a container port at Sears Island more viable, he said.

Vigue believes that an east-west highway, built within seven years, can significantly enlarge the economic pie in Maine. “Without something like this, we’re looking at a long, slow decline of northern Maine – more of what we’ve already experienced,” he said. Vigue notes that Cianbro has become a major bridge-builder – it partnered with Reed & Reed on the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, and is currently building the new international crossing at Calais – but does not have experience with road and pavement. “We will develop the proposal,” he said, “and see where it takes us. If we need to get out of the way and let someone else take the lead, we’ll do that.”

He leaves little doubt about his determination to push for a successful conclusion.

“There’s all kinds of interest in this, in Maine and on both sides of the border. People understand what we’re talking about. And they’re beginning to believe we can get it done.”

Association News: Challenges and opportunities.
International perspectives broaden state outlook at 57th Maine Transportation Conference.

By Kathryn Buxton

From a national perspective, the outlook on transportation and the economy isn’t much brighter than it is in Maine. Funding is short. Vehicle miles and congestion are increasing on our highways and in our ports. The country’s transportation infrastructure is aging and, in some cases, falling down. The political will to address these problems is allbut- non-existent.

All the talk of doom and gloom, said Charles V. “Casey” Dinges, could sound like a lot of engineers looking for work. “But if we just keep our mouths shut, there will be plenty of work to be done,” said Dinges, managing director of external affairs for the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Dinges was the keynote speaker at the 57th Maine Transportation Conference on December 6 at the Augusta Civic Center. In addition to his dark words about falling bridges and constricted transportation budgets, he offered snapshots of initiatives to raise public awareness of the growing crisis, including his organization’s efforts to publish infrastructure “report cards” ( After the presentation, Maine Chapter – ASCE past president Peter Merfeld said the state group would be doing a similar report card for Maine.

In a series of technical and policy workshops that lasted throughout the day, speakers looked at the challenges and opportunities facing Maine’s transportation community from a range of perspectives. Senator Dennis Damon (D-Hancock), chair of the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee and moderator of the session titled “Our Aging Infrastructure – The Hidden Costs,” issued one of the first and strongest calls to action heard throughout the day. The problems are many, he said, so many that it can induce a feeling of helplessness. He said that it can be discouraging in the Transportation Committee knowing how Maine’s highways and bridges are getting worse and there is no money to fix them. “When people ask me ‘How do you do it?’” said Damon, “I say: ‘You have to do it, because the alternative is to sit on our hands, and clearly that isn’t enough.’”

‘Call it a crisis’
At that same session, MaineDOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note offered a bleak inventory of the challenges facing Maine’s Department of Transportation, the Maine Legislature and its other elected leaders. “Not good and getting worse,” was his darkly humorous synopsis of the condition of Maine’s transportation system. No matter what others may call it, he said, “I continue to call this a crisis, and I encourage you to do the same thing.” Van Note told the audience of assembled engineers, planners and policymakers that it would be a matter of coming up with the funding for Maine’s network of aging highways and bridges or watching them fall into deeper disrepair – “pay or post,” as he termed it.

Van Note’s co-presenter, economist Jim Haughey of Reed Construction Data, put the outlook in terms of dollars and sense. He said that the Maine and national economies will be affected by the collapse of the sub prime mortgage market and tightening credit markets. He said that, in turn, would negatively impact the competitive bidding on capital infrastructure projects, meaning transportation funding would not go as far. He also predicted that the state’s economy would continue to be lackluster in comparison with the New England and U.S. economies. In one upbeat note, he said despite steeply increasing prices for oil and gas, that asphalt prices would stabilize, as oil producers took their profits “off the top of the barrel.”

Looking outward
During the policy track, members of Maine’s transportation community had the opportunity to hear about transportation developments in Europe and China in a session moderated by MaineDOT Commissioner David Cole. Dr. Mike Meyer of Georgia Tech spoke about transportation investments in Europe.

His talk focused on that region’s emphasis on increasing safety for its citizens (Europe currently experiences only 89 traffic-related fatalities per million versus the 147 fatalities in the U.S. every year). He discussed Europe’s regional approach to the movement of freight and services. Meyer also spoke of how cross-border cooperation regarding freight regulation and infrastructure enhancements has improved interconnectivity and advanced trade among European nations by moving goods and people across 30 coordinated corridors called “trans European networks” (TENs). Meyer discussed European nations’ heightened interest in “sustainable mobility” – investments in technology and infrastructure that conserve energy, improve air quality and protect the environment. He said that as Americans are just beginning to entertain the notion of new funding models for its transportation networks, Europe has moved ahead of us, with more private funding and distance-based user fees. He closed with the thought that if the U.S. is to compete, they must take a more creative and global perspective. “There is no time for complacency,” said Meyer.

Europe’s mature economy and transportation network was in direct contrast to the portrait painted of transportation in China. Eva Lerner-Lam of the Palisades Consulting Group, Inc., took session participants on a whirlwind tour of a decade-long building spree that the Chinese government has undertaken. With slide after slide, Lerner- Lam showed visions of dramatic new bridges, express highways and high speed passenger rail facilities.

She recounted having first visited the country in 1992 and the long trip from the airport to her Shanghai hotel on a two-lane dirt road. A little more than a decade later, that trip was reduced to just eight minutes on a multi-lane express highway. Lerner-Lam also spoke about the Chinese conceptual model of integrated development that mixes private and public funding at a ratio of two-thirds public investment to one-third private funding. Lerner- Lam said that model places the Chinese government in the role of investor. Compared with the western trend of asset monetization – selling off its public infrastructure to private companies – China’s “asset equitization brings the public and private sectors to the table” as co-owners. The public gains because the citizens remain the majority owners and key beneficiaries of this shiny new network of highways, bridges and transit.

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