Trains, buses, automobiles and jobs
7th Transportation Day important pit stop for Governor, legislators in busy day
By Kathryn Buxton
Governor John Baldacci set a fast pace as he toured Transportation Day at the Capitol’s Hall of Flags in Augusta April 1. He made the rounds of 20 exhibits detailing various aspects of Maine’s transportation system – from roads and rail to transit and trails.
A steady stream of state legislators also made the event an important stopover during a busy day of committee meetings at the capitol, including most members of the legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation. MaineDOT Commissioner David Cole also stopped by and visited different exhibitors.
The governor delivered the opening remarks for the day and spoke about the importance of investing in Maine’s transportation infrastructure if the state is to make a strong recovery from the current recession. “If we don’t invest in our roads, rails, ports and airports, businesses cannot efficiently get their goods to market,” Baldacci said, addressing the seventh biennial event organized by the Maine Bettter Transportation Association.
“We need to invest if we want to grow out of the recession. We need sound investments to ensure that businesses and people have the tools to be more successful to compete around the globe,” said Baldacci. He stressed the importance of the $143 million Maine is receiving in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds for highways, bridges and transit. He said that funding is already putting people to work in Maine. He also advocated for the $306 million transportation bond proposal that he presented earlier this year.
“This spring, summer and fall, we are going to put about 11,000 people to work on transportation projects,” said the governor. “The state’s investment package that I presented will create thousands of jobs over three years.”
Baldacci also hinted at the size and scope of MaineDOT’s 2010-2011 Work Plan that was unveiled to the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee and leaders in the transportation community the following day. The work plan includes $809 million in capital projects and more than $61 million in transit operating support.
“The hundreds of projects included in this program will provide yet another major injection of money into our economy and more long-term benefits for our state,” Governor Baldacci said. “The highway and bridge projects in this work plan alone can be expected to create or preserve more than 15,600 jobs. What Maine needs now are jobs. The recovery funds, combined with my proposed investment package and the MaineDOT’s biennial work plan will put people to work. That is the best way to begin stimulating our economy again.”