Transportation can transform an economy. Even in tough times, it’s good to remember the power that transportation investments bring. By Randy Mace.
Roads more traveled. MaineDOT’s Scenic Byways Program seeks sustainable ways to attract new visitors. By Kathryn Buxton
What’s on their minds. Talking about transportation with Representatives James Gillway and Alex Willette. By Maria Fuentes
Foamed asphalt in Washington County. A new paving technique is put to the test.
Trailblazers. A new pedestrian bridge opens over the Maine Turnpike in Kennebunk.
3 p.m. on Friday. An interview with Janet Kavinoky of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Putting it on the line. Golf Classic raises $20,000 for infrastructure fund.
Going. . . going. . . strong. A third generation at the helm of Central Maine Auction. By Kathryn Buxton.
Planning with a purpose. Studying what we think we can build and not what we can’t. By Herb Thomson, MaineDOT Director of Planning.
Transportation can transform an economy
by Randy Mace, MBTA President
Our cover story for this issue highlights Maine’s scenic byways program. Why? Certainly, when it comes to roads, our byways are showstoppers. That, in itself, is worth celebrating. In the case of Maine’s 14 scenic byways, not only do they look good, they provide an important economic benefit to the state and to the communities through which they pass.
Chief among those benefits is the economic development potential that comes with a byway designation. Byways are big tourism lures. They draw travelers from all corners of the country, as well as an increasing number of visitors from beyond our borders, all of whom are looking for an authentic experience in a place that is not defined by shopping malls and outlet stores but where people are shaped by the landscape and find inspiration and make their living in the forest and from the mountains and the sea. Byways offer teaching moments where visitors can experience and learn from the characteristics that make each byway unique – cultural, historic, natural, recreational, archeological and/or scenic qualities that define some of the most remarkable places in our state.
Visitors who seek out Maine’s byways can learn a great deal – whether it is a deeper understanding of the Acadien culture and history while traveling the St. John Valley Cultural Byway that traces the border with Canada in Aroostook County – or experiencing glimpses of the Golden Age along the Acadia All American Road, one of Maine’s four national scenic byways, where wealthy industrialists once built grand summer “cottages” along the rocky coastline.
As Carolann Ouellette, director of the Maine office of Tourism, notes in this issue, “byways designation provides all kinds of marketing opportunities.”
Those opportunities include federal funding, a high profile within the tourism and travel community and technical assistance from MaineDOT and other organizations that support federal and state byways programs.
With those opportunities come economic activity. According to A Review of Impact Studies Related to Scenic Byway Designation, a report published by the National Scenic Byways Resource Center (NSBRC), between 19 and 33 jobs are created per $41 million in visitor spending within a byway corridor. For every $1 in byway visitor spending, local and state governments generate between 4¢ and 8¢ in tax revenues. Another study in the NSBRC report estimated average visitor spending annually at $32,000 per byway mile. For local businesses, a byways designation can mean a significant increase in sales: between $740,000 and $1.45 million.
For a state like Maine that relies heavily on its tourism industry for jobs, tax revenue and healthy local economies, our 14 scenic byways represent a wealth of potential.
While the Federal Highway Administration provides the majority of funding and MaineDOT oversees the byways program, responsibility for management of individual byway corridors falls mainly on local grassroots byways groups or partnerships. Those organizations – comprised of residents, officials and business owners from the towns along the route – do the lion’s share of the work to operate the byways day-to-day, season-to-season: from cataloguing points of interest along the way to making decisions on how to market the byway.
While several of Maine’s byways have been around for decades, recent efforts to organize corridor groups and create plans for the state’s newest byways show just how much we have yet to learn to tap their potential. Whether it is efforts by communities along the Grindstone Scenic Byway to expand tourism in a local economy that has been long dominated by papermaking or advocates in Hancock and Washington counties learning how to use social media as an organizational and marketing tool, Maine’s byways are leading the way in transforming our local economies.
Transportation is a two-way street, and scenic byways present a micro view of the value well-planned, well-constructed highways and roads have in connecting communities across the state. They can remind us how important our roads have been throughout history. They don’t just bring tourists, they transport our products – paper, wood pellets, seafood, potatoes and pretty much everything we make and need.
On an even larger scale, traveling on a scenic byway is very much like traveling through small town America. It gives the traveler a chance to slow down, take in the scenery and realize what makes our country great.
These are tough times, and we need to be creative about how we use our resources to help our communities thrive – whether it is our spectacular scenery, cultural heritage or our highway infrastructure. That’s precisely why byways are such a good investment for Maine. It’s also a lesson that will never grow old, and one we can’t afford to forget.
Be sure to carve out time in your year-end calendar for two great transportation events. The Maine Transportation Conference, Thursday, December 1 in Augusta, is fast approaching. The MBTA Holiday Meeting, Thursday, December 8 in Bangor, will be close on its heels. This year, we have great programs for both of these popular events on the MBTA annual calendar.
These gatherings are wonderful opportunities to network with leaders in our field – and a great chance to catch up with associates and friends before the holiday season. I look forward to seeing you at both events.
This is also Super Raffle season, our annual fundraiser for the MBTA Educational Foundation. We are selling just 500 tickets this year, and the winner takes home a $7,000 trip to a location of his or her choice – anywhere in the world. (There are second and third prizes, too.) Be sure to get your ticket early, because they usually sell out. The winner will be announced at the Holiday Meeting.
Roads More traveled
Creating scenic byways partnerships to foster economic development
By Kathryn Buxton
In September, about 40 people including state legislators, tourism officials and local business owners boarded a bus and drove the 90-mile length of the Grindstone Scenic Byway from Matagamon at the northern end of Baxter State Park to Togue Pond at the south end. There were almost a dozen stops along the route, where participants learned about local history, culture and art. The bus tour was a milestone event in the effort to coalesce local support for the byway. It was the first time many of the people who have lived and worked within the byway corridor really saw the scenic route in its entirety – as well as the route’s broader possibilities as a tourism destination.
“By the end of the day, we hoped that everyone on the bus had the complete story of the byway from those who know it best,” said Fred Michaud. “It was a great exercise in public involvement.”
For the Katahdin region, that has long built its identity around papermaking and is now struggling to find new ways to bring jobs and economic stability to the area after the decline of the mills, the bus tour was a light bulb moment for many. It showed how a byway could be a uniting force.
Marsha Donahue, who hosted a bus stop tour at the North Light Gallery in Millinocket, said that the tour was an extraordinary opportunity for people to glimpse the power the byway has to help the region re-imagine its future.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone on the same page,” said Donahue, pointing out there is a constant push and pull between the region’s more traditional economic activities such as papermaking, snowmobiling and ATVs and newer businesses like her art gallery.
“I was very excited to have people in the gallery who had never been here before and to show how we fit into the history of the region,” said Donahue. She said that making those connections and finding commonalities will be key as the region works to find a new “economic diversity.”
Carolann Ouellette, who heads Maine’s Office of Tourism, agrees that byways can be a powerful promotional tool.
“The byways designation provides all kinds of marketing opportunities,” said Ouellette. She cited a movement to market travel itineraries, so tourists have more reasons to visit a region.
“It allows local businesses to work together to build a great package and develop an attractive itinerary that showcases the scenic and cultural spots that make a byway,” said Ouellette.
By any description, Maine’s Scenic Byways program is something of an oddity. It is a collection of highways leading through some of the most beautiful and culturally significant places in Maine. The program is about building local grassroots efforts, and it is funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Maine’s program is seen by many within the state as a way to boost tourism and economic development in some of the state’s farthest flung rural areas. By others, it’s viewed as a way to preserve special places for their cultural, natural or scenic heritage. Individually, byway groups are a loosely organized network of local residents who take on the task of surveying, cataloguing and promoting local assets along their route.
Most of all, in the scope of programs managed by MaineDOT, it is a small program with very big dreams. The enthusiasm that byways engender among local residents is one of the program’s biggest selling points, and it will be one of the most critical elements in the byways’ ability to thrive in the years to come.
“Byways are, for the most part, grassroots organizations. They’re locally driven, and that is a big part of their beauty,” said MaineDOT Policy Development Specialist Fred Michaud who oversees the state’s four national and 10 state scenic byways. That means that advocates from the communities within the byway corridor essentially call the shots: from classifying the intrinsic values that earn a highway corridor its scenic designation to developing the byway corridor plan.
Getting everyone on the bus, so to speak, and helping different interests within the byways corridor find common ground and common purpose is essential for a byway project to succeed.
“There does need to be a high level of buy-in from local businesses and residents,” said Bruce Hazard of Placeworks Consulting. Hazard has been working with byway organizations in Maine for more than a decade, and he has seen the program grow and change as the concept of byways has come of age. If anything, he said, the program has gotten better. When Hazard first began working with byways organizations in Maine, there was a lot of focus on creating a corridor management plan. These days, there is an effort to build organizational capacity within the corridor communities, so the corridor plans are more sustainable.
“There’s a lot of hurry up and wait with a byway and that can be tough on an organization. You build up enthusiasm, and then you have to wait a year or two for the funding,” said Hazard. Those long lag times waiting for funding can have a tendency to rob momentum and enthusiasm from the effort, he said. As Hazard has learned, byways need large groups with varied but related interests that are ready to go the distance if they are to be successful.
Nowadays, said Michaud, the focus is on supporting the creation of sustainable grassroots organizations that have long-term goals for their regions. For the Grindstone Scenic Byway, that means forging alliances with a broad range of stakeholders, including large landowners, government agencies, local chambers of commerce and merchant and tourism groups. Even within these groups, there can be divergent interests and goals. Finding a way to establish common ground and keep byway efforts moving toward common goals can be challenging, said Michaud.
It is the emerging wisdom among byways professionals nationwide that the ability to develop compatible strategies for fiscal and organizational sustainability will be critical for byways to successfully reach their potential, said Michaud.
He cited efforts behind the Ohio & Erie Canal Way in Ohio, the Mohawk Towpath Byway in New York and Cascades Lakes Scenic Byway in Oregon as the model for this new concept of what he calls “the corridor management partnerships.”
To help build sustainable byway organizations with stronger roots, MaineDOT is looking at employing not only new organizational techniques, but also new technology and taking advantage of new, social media networks.
Michaud this fall attended “Marketing Boot Camp for Byways,” a program at the America’s Byways Resource Center in Duluth, Minnesota, and funded by the FWHA. There, Michaud and other byway coordinators learned ways for byways groups to become more efficient at reaching tourism markets outside of their home states.
Michaud said that in many ways, Maine’s byways are well-kept secrets.
“We put the signs up and we built amenties to benefit the traveler, but there’s a lot more we can do to make these more beneficial economic development programs,” said Michaud. In Maine, some byways have been more proactive than others. He noted that some of the most innovative promotional efforts are coming from recently designated routes, and from those off the beaten path, perhaps because there is more at stake for the byway partners. He cited the well-coordinated efforts to promote attractions along the Schoodic National Scenic Byway led by Jim Fisher at the Hancock County Planning Commission including efforts to tap into social media networks, and use videos, podcasts, QR codes and social media forums such as Facebook to engage visitors and corridor partners. A big attraction of new media for byway groups is that it is low cost and has the potential to reach a new, younger traveling audience from more distant places.
“All of this new media is great. It’s almost free – all it takes is time and a little gray matter,” said Fisher.
Still, Michaud believes more can be done to assist and empower corridor partners. He talked of forming an association that could market all of Maine’s byways collectively, so byways can pool their financial and professional resources. He also talked about investments MaineDOT may be able to make that will help facilitate the formation of local and statewide grassroots efforts, using up-to-date technologies such as remote meeting software like Adobe Connect.
“A lot of times, it’s hard getting people together when a byway is 80 or 90 miles long. It’s difficult to meet regularly, and it can be expensive,” said Michaud. “We want to look at how we can initiate meetings with webcams and interactive conferencing to increase the frequency of people getting together and sharing ideas.”
Michaud and Hazard both said there is a role byway organizations can play in the decisions prioritizing road maintenance funding, as state funding for highways grows tighter. Much like a metropolitan planning organization, communities within the corridor could present their priorities for road maintenance to MaineDOT to help steer funding to the byways for necessary repairs.
Hazard of Placeworks Consulting noted the correlation between the quality of a byway road surface and traveler experience. “There are basic expectations of a byway that the road surface is in good shape,” said Hazard. “That doesn’t mean that visitor satisfaction goes sky high if the road is good, but if a road is in bad shape, you can lose a lot of points.”
And of course, byways will need to have strong strategic visions to continue to attract federal dollars for signature projects like the $3 million reconstruction of the Height of Land scenic overlook completed earlier this year. Well-considered, well-placed investments such as good turnout infrastructure or visitor kiosks can be a cost-effective way to enhance the visitor experience.
For the Grindstone Byway and the communities along its route, the effort to define the region’s value as a tourism destination, to create tourist itineraries, to refine marketing messages and to identify the most effective marketing channels comes at a very good time, according to local gallery owner Donahue. She said efforts to market the byway will dovetail nicely with work Millinocket and other communities in the region are doing to redefine the area as a “world class” recreational and cultural destination.
“The signs are up, and now we need to map it, maybe do some videos and start working on national promotion,” said Donahue. “This is happening at the right time.”
What’s on their minds
Transportation Committee members James S. Gillway and Alex R. Willette offer MBTA’s Maria Fuentes their thoughts about Maine’s $220 million decrease in transportation funding, the legislative coming session, user fees and ‘The Worst Road in Maine’
Maine Trails: The Highway Fund budget recently enacted by the Legislature has $220 million less in funding for capital highway and bridge projects. Do you support continuing to reduce the amount of funding available for capital highway and bridge projects?
Representative James S. Gillway: I don’t support the reduction, per se, I just wish there were more money to go around. We spent considerable resources on light capital paving (formerly known as maintenance surface treatment), and that isn’t always the best way to go, but it was necessary. My hope is that we can soon go back to doing more miles of highway reconstruction.
Representative Alex R. Willette: No. Capital improvement projects are crucial in maintaining Maine’s transportation infrastructure. Unfortunately, the economy has had a major impact on Highway Fund revenue. Like all Maine families, the Transportation Committee had to make difficult decisions to sustain a balanced budget. With the help of Commissioner Bernhardt and his staff at MaineDOT, we worked very hard to stabilize funding for road and bridge repair, thereby cutting areas of the budget that were less of a priority.
Maine Trails: Most states provide general fund support for transportation investments, in fact, at a national average of 17.65 percent of the total General Fund budget. In Maine, there is no consistent commitment of General Fund monies to support transportation infrastructure, despite the large role transportation plays in the economy and its impacts on things like sales and income tax revenues. Do you think that should change?
Rep. Gillway: I would love to see that happen in Maine. What we do here in Searsport [where Rep. Gillway is town manager] is a three-pronged approach to fixing our roads. We use some tax-based money, as well as state URIP money, and the excise tax. This way, we are not entirely dependent on fees. Of course, we have been plagued with increasing costs; when I first started as town manager five years ago, the cost of pavement was $38 per ton, and now it is pushing $80 per ton. So although we tripled the amount of money going to our road system, some of that is being eaten up by costs. But we are definitely holding our own. Originally, we only used our URIP funds, which is about $50,000, but by moving to a three-pronged approached, we are definitely keeping our head above water.
Rep. Willette: Definitely. In fact, Representative Patrick S. A. Flood (R-Winthrop), who chairs the Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs, developed an initiative to use funds from a future liquor contract for the purpose of supplementing the Highway Fund. This outside-of-the-box method of thinking needs to continue, as I firmly believe that there needs to be General Fund support for vital transportation infrastructure.
Maine Trails: The last few work plans have been partially funded by general obligation bonds and GARVEE bonds, but the current work plan has neither. Do you support passage of a transportation bond next session to make critical capital improvements to highways, bridges and other modes? What about a GARVEE bond for highways and bridges?
Rep. Gillway: What we really need to do is take a comprehensive look at our needs, and see what we have available to fund them. I think bonding should be on the table, and shouldn’t be automatically dismissed, but we should also look at all other options at the same time.
Rep. Willette: We first need to prioritize project funding, and then scrutinize each bond proposal individually. This year, the only bond initiatives that came before the Transportation Committee were for the purpose of funding the Kittery bridges.
It needs to be made clear that bonding is like using one’s credit card. A lot needs to be considered before pulling this quick and easy method of payment out of your wallet, such as long-term interest at the cost of future funding for education, helping the truly needy, and of course road and bridge maintenance, just to name a few. When we take the time to plan and govern responsibly, projects can be paid for directly. By getting the maximum benefit from every tax dollar collected, the state will not need to be burdened with interest payments.
Maine Trails: Public investment in infrastructure has been a way to jump start the economy during difficult economic times in the past. Do you think that model still works today?
Rep. Gillway: I do think investment in infrastructure puts people to work quickly, but those jobs are short-lived since the projects are presumably completed quickly, then those folks are no longer on the payroll. So yes, the model works, but there is a life span to those projects. Ideally, that money would be replaced so that people can continue working, and those can be long-term jobs.
Rep. Willette: A lesson learned from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is that the resultant job creation from funds received was only short-term. Once the projects were done, contactors were then faced with the arduous task of once again laying off workers.
Is public investment in infrastructure necessary? Yes it is; however, not at the expense of mortgaging our future and tying down future generations to pay for the accumulated debt. Long-term recovery must be a public/private partnership, with both sides acting sensibly to help restore people’s hope in the American dream.
Maine Trails: Knowing we have to set priorities on where to spend our limited transportation dollars, where are the best places to spend those limited dollars?
Rep. Gillway: Again, we need to take a comprehensive look at the entire state. Where we are most exposed? Bridges? Certain roads? Heavily traveled roads? Maybe it is our secondary roads that are creating most problems in terms of damage to vehicles. So we should take a broad look, but our first priorities have to be health and safety.
Rep. Willette: First, we should focus on bridges. The collapse of the I35W Mississippi River Bridge and Hurricane Irene showed the vulnerability of our bridges – not just in Maine, but also across the nation. Government – national, state and local – needs to live up to its responsibility of providing the public with sound infrastructure.
Second, MaineDOT does a top-notch job taking care of major arterial highways like the interstate, but we have to look at improved funding for our more rural roads. In Aroostook County, Routes 1 and 11, two central thoroughfares, have been well-maintained, but only as a result of its county delegation’s diligent work. I am proud to be part of this persevering group, as we persistently put aside our partisan differences to put our constituents’ interests ahead of politics.
Maine Trails: Maine was recently ranked 12th worst in the nation for the condition of our bridges. Do you think finding a way to fix our bridges should be one of our priorities?
Rep. Gillway: We definitely need to find ways to pay more attention to bridges. I recently wrote a letter of support for a TIGER 3 grant for the Richmond/Dresden Bridge. We need to do it as quickly as we can, and we can’t have a repeat of what has happened in other parts of the country.
Rep. Willette: Yes. As I said earlier, bridges should be a top priority. Major catastrophes are linked with these aging and fast-deteriorating crossings. Lives are saved and quality of life is maintained and improved by making certain bridges are in good repair.
Realizing the priority of safe overpasses, money should come from available resources, not bond revenue. Again, responsible planning and governance will allow for such projects to be funded without growing public debt.
Maine Trails: If you could request the federal government to fund one transportation project in Maine, what project would that be?
Rep. Gillway: It is important to go after every single federal dollar available for every project, regardless of what part of the state it is in. We need to fund whatever we can with federal monies. It really doesn’t much matter whether it is a small or big project – just that we leverage every available federal dollar.
Rep. Willette: The extension of I-95 north of Houlton immediately comes to mind. Consequently, tractor-trailer trucks would have a faster, more direct means of travel, thus increasing safety for motorists on Routes 1 and 11. In addition, goods would be brought to market faster, thus lowering costs and helping to develop the overall economy of Aroostook.
Maine Trails: The gas tax was originally designed as a direct user fee, but has lost a lot of its buying power in the past 30 years. Do you think user fees are a good way to fund transportation?
Rep. Gillway: User fees are one source, but they shouldn’t be the only source. They have a place but we can’t rely on them completely to pay for our infrastructure.
Rep. Willette: In my view, user fees are a good part of the mix. Nonetheless, everyone benefits from Maine’s roads and highways. The majority of freight comes in and out of our state on trucks. Even if you do not own a car, you still benefit from infrastructure. This is why I favor General Fund support for our highways.
So, yes, user fees are a component, but not the only component. We need to work on building a broader overall funding mix.
Maine Trails: Rail is seen as an effective way to move freight - and people. Do you think Maine should be finding ways to increase investment in this mode of transportation?
Rep. Gillway: I believe it is very important to look at freight and passenger rail, because rail leaves a smaller footprint, and it is generally more efficient. Everybody is looking to reduce their carbon footprint and rail is one way to do it immediately.
Rep. Willette: Further developing a strong freight system would be a major tool in helping Maine’s economic development. In relation to passenger rail, I am not certain it would be a worthwhile investment right now, but it is certainly something that should be looked at and carefully considered as our state’s and nation’s financial outlook improves.
Maine Trails: What is your biggest priority for the next session of the Maine Legislature’s Transportation Committee? In your opinion, what was the most important achievement by the committee this year?
Rep. Gillway: We had many folks in front of us talking about inspection laws and changing them so they are not required annually; this may not be the most important issue we deal with, but it is one in which there is a great deal of public interest, so it is important in that sense. There is a carry-over bill, and I hope we resolve it in some manner.
An important achievement was the movement forward on the Gold Star plates. I have received a lot of positive feedback from that, and it was a positive accomplishment to get that pushed forward.
Rep. Willette: Our best achievement was passing a unanimous Highway Fund budget, the first time this had been done in a decade. There were definitely some hard decisions that had to be made in order to reach a consensus on the $637 million plan. Nonetheless, we came together, did what was best for the state and passed a budget that did not increase taxes, but also provided a sensible amount of funding for bridge and highway maintenance.
For the next session, I look forward to hearing from the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) regarding the progress they have made in re-tooling the agency, as well as in cutting unnecessary expenses. So far, Peter Mills has done a great job in making the MTA a more efficient operation, so I am anxious to hear more.
Additionally, I am interested in discussing Senator Doug Thomas’ (R-Ripley) rural roads bill. Hopefully, this will draw more attention to the need for better care of our rural ways.
Maine Trails: We have an annual contest called “The Worst Road in Maine.” If you were entering this contest, which road would you choose to enter? Why is it so bad?
Rep. Gillway: I saw where Route 141 won the contest and I have driven over it, so I agree it was a good choice.
Rep. Willette: Many of the state roads in my district are in good shape; unfortunately, there are roads maintained by municipalities throughout my district that are in poor condition. If we could work on building and improving connections between MaineDOT and town highway departments, I believe these roads could be much improved. Having talked with Commissioner Bernhardt about the state’s many great relationships with local communities, I am certain that he will continue to develop a better, lasting rapport with them, so that all Mainers will benefit from these partnerships.
Foamed asphalt a good fit for U.S. 1 in Washington County
Sargent corporation crews this July completed work on two sections of Route 1 in Washington County, including 3.7 miles in the town of Whiting and 2.33 miles in the town of Pembroke. Both sections of the 3.7 million project included ditching, culvert replacement and ledge removal.
In addition, the Pembroke section included rebuilding the surfaces of the roadway using a foamed asphalt and cement application.
Operations Manager Jim Conley said it was the first time Sargent Corporation had used the foamed asphalt process, but it probably would not be the last.
“I anticipate seeing this process used more often to rehabilitate roads that are in poor condition,” he said.
The advantage of foamed asphalt process is that a stabilized base for the roadway is created using materials that are in place, as opposed to removing 24 inches of old material and placing 24 inches of new material.
The process involves grinding up the existing pavement and mixing it with the gravel underneath. Then, four inches of the reclaimed material is removed from the existing pavement area, placed on the shoulders, and compacted to finished grade.
Finally, a layer of cement is placed on the surface and the road is reclaimed a second time while injecting foamed asphalt into the mixtures of cement and reclaimed aggregates.
Once this process is completed, the crew has 24 hours or less to get the road completely fine-graded and prepped before the asphalt and cement set up and the mixture becomes too hard to fine-grade.
After fine-grading, a six-inch layer of hot bituminous pavement was placed to complete the roadway.
The Lane Construction Corporation worked with Sargent crews as a subcontractor on the foamed asphalt application.
Conley said foamed asphalt has been used sparingly in Maine, but it is fairly common in other areas of the U.S., particularly those that don’t have good aggregate sources. He said the Pembroke section of the Route 1 project had a poor quality gravel base, but years of paving and repaving had left a layer of pavement that was six inches thick. Grinding and reclaiming the pavement and mixing it with the existing gravel resulted in a substantial layer of base material.
Ledge removal on the project was challenging, because it involved removing ledge from the side of the road for safety. The ledge included some large outcrops that were very close to the edge of the road and directly beneath utility lines and the existing roadway. Sargent tried mechanical excavation first.
“It turned out to work quite well,” said Conley. The crews removed 6,800 cubic yards of ledge using a CAT 336 excavator with a 7,500 pound hoe ram and a Volvo 210 excavator with a 5,000 pound hoe ram.
The project also included 3,500 linear feet of pipe for cross culverts and driveway culverts and 36,100 linear feet of ditch excavation.
Work on the project started in late summer 2010, and the crews were able to work on ledge removal until January. The project was completed in early July 2011.
Mike Gordon was the project superintendent, Doug Morrison and Travis Fernald were the project managers, and Ken McIver and John Koch were the foremen.
Kennebunk Elementary students help open new pedestrian bridge
When it comes to christening a new trail and bridge, there’s nothing like marking the occasion with help from nearly 500 elementary school students, a bagpiper and a moose to do the job. The bridge in question, the Eastern Trail Bridge crossing the Maine Turnpike in Kennebunk, opened officially on September 28 when officials from the Maine Turnpike Authority, trail advocates and Kennebunk cut a bright red ribbon and Miles the Turnpike Moose and piper Travis Cote led students from Kennebunk Elementary School over the bridge.
“This is a very great honor for all of us,” said Turnpike Executive Director Peter Mills at a ceremony preceding the ribbon cutting and ceremonial hike across the bridge. “We need places where people can be up and outside, places where kids can be safe. This is a valuable community asset.”
The bridge completes a new 6.2-mile section of trail from Kennebunk to Biddeford, and trail advocates hailed it as a significant link in the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway vision of a continuous, traffic-free multi-use trail stretching from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. To date, approximately 21 miles of trail in southern Maine have been completed, part of a 65-mile stretch of trail connecting Kittery and Casco Bay. If all goes according to the trail advocates’ vision, the East Coast Greenway in Maine will eventually include 387 miles of mostly off-road trail connecting Kittery with Calais.
The $1.3 million bridge is the first pedestrian bridge of its kind to cross the Maine Turnpike and represents years of planning and cooperation between the Eastern Trail Alliance, the Maine Turnpike Authority, MaineDOT and the East Coast Greenway Alliance. It is the first of two major Eastern Trail bridges set to open this fall; the second, over Route 1 in Saco, is slated for a November opening.
Bob Hamblen, current president of the Eastern Trail Alliance, made sure to thank project partners for their efforts: the Maine Turnpike for funding the bridge; HNTB Corporation for engineering work and project management; CPM Constructors for building the bridge; MaineDOT for providing federally dedicated bike and pedestrian funding for the trail and bridge abutments; and John Andrews, the founder and former president of the Eastern Trail Alliance, for being the project catalyst. Andrews said he was “just awestruck” with the new bridge and section of trail.
East Coast Greenway Trustee Tony Barrett lauded the new bridge and trail, noting that thanks to hard work and frugal planning, the trail and bridge cost about half of what a similar project in North Carolina cost. In gratitude, he also presented the Andrews and Mills each with an official East Coast Greenway trail marker to place on the bridge.
“Bridges are the most costly part of building trails, so thank you Maine Turnpike,” said Barrett.
Most of all, the event showed just how excited kids can get about transportation during even a short break from the humdrum of the school day. As students walked over the bridge, many of them stopped to wave at turnpike travelers and gleefully signal passing trucks to honk. Dozens of truck drivers were more than happy to comply.
3 p.m. on Friday
Transportation Conference keynote Janet Kavinoky is looking into reauthorization’s future
It’s 3 p.m. on a November Friday, and Janet Kavinoky is waiting for a copy of transportation and energy legislation penned by House Republicans to cross her desk. It was the kind of week that hinted of movement on the long-overdue transportation reauthorization. And that would mean that Kavinoky would have some news to bring to Maine as keynote speaker at the Maine Transportation Conference, Thursday, December 1, at the Augusta Civic Center.
It certainly has been a busy week for Kavinoky, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s advocate on transportation and energy issues. The Senate voted down a pared down jobs bill the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats had been championing. Earlier in the week, the Chamber had penned a letter calling for just that.
“We spoke against it, because it is a one-time investment that would be paid for by a tax increase on small business,” said Kavinoky. Instead of a “one-time shot,” she said, the Chamber is pushing for a multi-year bill that would create some certainty in transportation funding where there has been precious little stability lately.
The Chamber, she said, did like the Republicans’ “alternative jobs plan” that had been defeated in the Senate earlier in the week. (That plan was voted down 47-53, carried by the majority of Senate Democrats. Maine Senator Olympia Snowe also voted against the measure.)
Kavinoky said the Chamber liked several of the pro-business provisions in the bill, including a relaxation of environmental rules the Chamber believed could have sped up transportation project delivery.
She also takes the recent back-and-forth on jobs and funding as a hopeful sign Congress may at last be ready to begin the marketplace bartering that will eventually lead to long-term reauthorization legislation after more than two years of temporary extensions. She was heartened to hear House Speaker John Boehner say earlier in the week that Republicans are looking for money to help cover the projected transportation funding gap – without a tax increase – to keep funding at current levels.
‘Influencing the trajectory’
In the middle of the interview, Kavinoky stops briefly to tweet a message about a letter to the House majority leadership calling for movement on a multi-year transportation bill, a letter signed by 123 House Republicans. She doesn’t have a large Twitter following, but the minute her message is out, several people “retweet” the message and the news gains momentum among “transportation geeks” like a snowball rolling down a hill. (You can follow Kavinoky on Twitter @JanetKavinoky.)
Ultimately, getting the word out and encouraging those in the business community to get involved in the transportation funding debate is at the heart of Kavinoky’s job as the Chamber’s executive director for transportation and infrastructure. Her address at the Maine Transportation Conference is titled “Charting the Course,” and she said it will offer analysis about “what is going on in Washington and how that applies to states and how people in Maine can influence the trajectory” of the debate.
She spins out the possible scenarios depending on a range of factors. If all continues on the current course, there is hope for a long-term bill that would fund transportation for at least the next two years. And further down the line, after the presidential election is behind us, perhaps legislators will address transportation funding needs in a more substantive, less stop-gap manner. That would, the Chamber hopes, include raising the gas tax for the first time in 18 years to address a staggering $624 billion funding gap for U.S. roads and bridges.Kavinoky said a deciding factor will be if businesses and individuals advocate for a long-term bill in legislators’ home districts. And she said it was just that kind of hometown pressure after the Congressional stalemate shutdown of the Federal Aviation Authority this summer, that has gotten the discussion going.
“A few days after that, I think they saw that shutting down the FAA and cutting off funding and putting people out of work didn’t go over so well at home,” said Kavinoky.
While the trajectory appears to be on an upward path toward reauthorization, Kavinoky admits that could be temporary – all the more reason for constituents to keep up the pressure on lawmakers at home.
“These things in Washington can change on a dime,” she said. “Still, it’s 3 p.m. on Friday and I’m feeling it today.”
One for all, all for transportation
MBTA raises $21,000 for infrastructure, scholarships at annual Fall Convention
Wherever MBTA members go, they typically end up talking about transportation. That was the case, September 9 through 11 at the MBTA Fall Convention. The annual gathering is a major date in the MBTA calendar and a chance for members, their families and friends to get together and talk about the construction season that is typically winding down. At this year’s convention, another big topic of conversation was the almost-complete Canada Route 1 expressway that greeted MBTA’ers as they passed through the new international border crossing at Calais.
The weekend at the Algonquin in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea provided many more opportunities to talk transportation: from the grand opening reception, sponsored by Chadwick-BaRoss; to the silent and live auctions that raised funds for the MBTA Infrastructure Development Fund; and to the convention raffle that supports MBTA Educational Foundation scholarships.
Nevertheless, there was plenty of time scheduled for fun. The weekend was one of those unforgettable early fall weekends filled with warm, blue-sky days and cool, breezy evenings. Convention goers took every opportunity they could to be outside and enjoying the fine weather, beginning with the Grand Opening Reception in the Algonquin’s gardens on Friday evening and sponsored by Chadwick-BaRoss. There were also two sea kayaking tours of Fundy Bay, the Convention Golf Tournament at the a picture-perfect Algonquin Golf Course and tours of the magnificent Kingsbrae Gardens, the just opened Fundy Discovery Aquarium and Ministers Island – a gorgeous 500-acre island and home to the summer estate of William Van Horne, first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The weekend was about competition, as well, and MBTA members, family and friends battled it out on the golf course, on the bocce court, at the cribbage table and at the live and silent auctions – all for the sake of a good cause – transportation education and public awareness.
The entire weekend was a great success, raising more than $19,000 for the MBTA Infrastructure Fund at both the silent and live auctions and another $2,300 for the MBTA Educational Foundation from the annual Convention Raffle.
As with every convention, planning for the 2011 event started early and was critical – along with the generous sponsorships of MBTA members – to the event’s success. Special thanks to all of the Convention sponsors and the Convention Committee for your hard work and a great time!
Tournament awards & prizes
Top Foursome: John Harbottle, Bonnie Harbottle, Gary LaPierre, Peter Hughes
2nd Place Foursome: Tim Folster, Pat Dubay, Geoffrey Thomas, Jim Conley
Closest to the Pin – Women: Jo-Anne Ford
Closest to the Pin – Men: Peter Hughes
Longest Drive – Women: Jean Bridges
Longest Drive – Men: Gary LaPierre
1st Place: Bob Brady, Marsha Brady
2nd Place: Tom Biegel, Kris Biegel
1st Place: Troy Sheehan, Kenny Therrien
2nd Place: Harold Bouchard, Al Bridges
2011 Convention Raffle Winners
$300 L.L. Bean gift card: Ron Jandreau
$200 L.L. Bean gift card: Bobbi Hosmer
$100 L.L. Bean gift card: Darlene Welch
Special thanks for the following sponsors:
Louis Berger Group
Hudson Asphalt Group
Wyman & Simpson, Inc.
H. O. Bouchard, Inc.
Central Maine Auction Center
Bruce A. Manzer, Inc.
Anderson Equipment Co., Inc.
Fay, Spofford & Thorndike
A.H. Harris & Sons, Inc.
Macdonald Page & Co LLC
Portland International Jetport
Everett J. Prescott, Inc.
NITRAM Excavation & GC, Inc.
The Rowley Agency, Inc.
Shaw Brothers Construction, Inc.
Willis of Northern New England
All States Materials Group
Berkley Surety Group
Down East Emulsions, LLC
East Jordan Iron Works
R.J. Grondin & Sons, Inc.
Haley & Aldrich, Inc.
Jordan Equipment Co.
Maine Drilling & Blasting, Inc.
Pratt & Sons, Inc.
Skillings-Shaw & Associates
The Lane Construction Corp.
Thompson Wellman Paving
Chair: Doug Hermann, Wyman & Simpson, Inc.
Lara Bailey, M & N Operating Co.
Paul Beaudette, Nortrax Equipment Co., LLC
Tom Biegel, Shaw Brothers Construction
Dick Cadigan, Milton CAT
Greg Dore, Maine Chapter APWA
Debbie Dunlap Avasthi, Willis of Northern New England
Tim Folster, Sargent Corp.
John Harbottle, The Rowley Agency
Larry Hutchins, Hudson Asphalt Group
Randy Mace, Anderson Equipment Co.
Bruce Manzer, Bruce A. Manzer, Inc.
Tom Martin, NITRAM Excavation, Inc.
Johnny Wardwell, The Lane Construction Corporation
Golf: Tim Folster, Sargent Corp.
Bocce: Tom Biegel, Shaw Brothers Construction
Cribbage: Conrad Welzel, Maine Turnpike Authority
Auctioneer: Kevin Tilton, Central Maine Auction Center
Planning with purpose
By Herb Thomson, MaineDOT Diretor of Planning
At a time of increasingly scarce financial resources, we need to assure the public, our customers, that we are directing those resources appropriately to meet current and future needs. This is the basic purpose of transportation planning. Yet transportation planning – let’s just call it “planning” – has multiple dimensions. For us at MaineDOT, sound planning is critical if we hope to fulfill our mission:
To responsibly provide our customers the safest and most reliable transportation system possible, given available resources.
For one thing, good planning is essential because of the enormous and growing cost of building and maintaining transportation systems. Poorly planned transportation systems and actions can lead to lost productivity, lower property values and degradation in quality of life. By contrast, good planning can lead to jobs and economic prosperity, greater safety and cleaner, stronger communities. Planning involves an array of activities, the most important of which are:
- determining the genuine transportation needs or problems we are trying to solve;
- collecting, organizing and maintaining data on the transportation system so that it can be used to prioritize effectively;
- prioritizing, so transportation agencies can decide how and where to allocate limited resources;
- complying with state and federal regulations;
- communicating with municipalities and other customers about transportation projects and programs;
- providing the public with information about the transportation system;
- providing the public opportunities to share their views and knowledge; and
- protecting the value of taxpayer investment in the transportation system.
Arguably, planning has not always maximized the public interest. A long, drawn-out planning “process” sometimes has resulted in loss of direction, frustration and public apathy for the public. It can be a drain on resources that could otherwise be used on infrastructure. At the same time, process can be worthwhile if it leads to the right decision, efficiently. For example, a “no-build” study recommendation is preferable to a $100 million expenditure for which costs are greater than benefits.
With the current administration and Transportation Commissioner, Dave Bernhardt, and with increasing federal interest in streamlining processes, we have an opportunity to look at planning with a fresh eye. Transportation planning is trending from what people would like the system to be in an ideal world toward a more practical view. Policy-makers are facing monumental financial challenges at all levels of government, and we no longer expect federal “earmarks” to materialize and fund everyone’s dreams for the transportation system. Planners are therefore placing fiscal constraint up front in the process, so ideas that are not financially viable can be ruled out early, saving valuable time and money.
More than ever, planning must be a purposeful activity that ends with recommendations we can accomplish and afford. Planners know that we can’t build or maintain all of the things that citizens might want, so we are better informing them about what they can reasonably expect. We hope to avoid the classic case of a costly, completed transportation study that “sits on the shelf” because its planning process didn’t include a financial plan or a realistic prospect of funding. This can waste study participants’ time and needlessly upset property owners who might be on a discussed, but unfeasible, alignment.
This doesn’t mean we can’t use our imagination and think outside the box. To the contrary, we expect complex, new challenges to arise in the coming years, so we must innovate. For example, as boomers get older and become less mobile, many will be less able to drive. We will need to develop ways to transport people to where they need or want to go. But as we plan for that eventuality, we still will be obliged to constrain our planning according to the resources we expect to have available. Our federal partners at the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration are moving on a parallel track and working to reduce process, to require viable financial plans and to focus on the purposes of the transportation problems we are trying to solve.
The formula for meaningful transportation planning, then, is relatively simple: define the purpose for the transportation need we are trying to address, and devise a feasible plan to address that need within the resources available. “Planning with purpose” is studying what we think we can build, and not studying what we can’t.
Central Maine Auction Center is a third generation auction house that has grown from a small, part-time farm auction to one of the fastest growing auction centers in the region.
There’s a rhythm to the typical week at Central Maine Auction Center (CMAC). On Monday, Kevin and Cathy Tilton finalize details with their staff for the week’s two used auto auctions at their locations in Hermon and Auburn. They post on-line inventories of the cars up for auction, and answer questions that potential buyers may have.
Then there’s the Tuesday auction in Auburn and the Wednesday sale in Hermon. On those days, cars fill the lots to overflowing and dealers assemble at the center and log in on-line, waiting for the bidding to begin. A small army of drivers, all part-time auction employees, move hundreds of cars through the auction, one-by-one. By 12:30, the auction is over and the paper work begins. Titles change hands and the dealers take possession of the cars. Around 3 p.m., the last of the cars stream out of the lot on their way to used car dealerships throughout Maine and New England.
Maine Trails caught up with Kevin and Cathy Tilton, owners of Central Maine Auction Center and the Southern Maine Auto Auction, at their Hermon location on a cool fall Wednesday afternoon, just as a group of 20 or so cars sold earlier in the day was leaving the lot. Already the Tiltons were looking ahead to the public equipment auction scheduled for the coming weekend. There would be a preview on Friday and an auction on Saturday. The phones had been ringing off the hook with buyers, many of them collectors interested in the lot of 26 Farmall tractors scheduled to go on the block. The Tiltons were expecting close to 300 bidders.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from all over the country,” said Cathy.
“Some of these Farmall collectors are pretty serious,” added Kevin.
Kevin Tilton is a third generation auctioneer who attended the College of Auctioneering in Mason City, Iowa. He officially joined his father Benjamin R. “Jock” Tilton III in the family’s auction business, Ben Tilton and Sons, in 1986 as an auctioneer, a business founded by his grandfather Benjamin Tilton, Jr. in Corinth. Kevin had worked alongside his dad long before that, doing odd jobs for the business which had grown as a sideline to the family’s farm.
In the old days, Kevin and his father auctioned every kind of livestock imaginable, as well as farm equipment. “We sold cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, goats. . . you name it,” remembered Kevin. In 1994, the family, including Kevin’s brother Scott, launched the Central Maine Auto Auction in Brewer, a dealer-only auction.
But auctioneering wasn’t the Tiltons’ only line of work. Kevin and his wife Cathy had bought a dairy farm in 1990 in Charleston, and their days were grueling. They were up at 4 a.m. to feed and milk a herd of 300 dairy cows and get three young daughters ready for school. Kevin would later head off to the auction house and Cathy to her job as a middle school math and science teacher. “Those were long days,” said Kevin with typical understatement.
Kevin and Scott took over the business when their dad died in 2000 at the age of 58. The Tiltons bought out Kevin’s brother in 2003. (Scott went into municipal administration and currently is town manager of Chelsea, Maine.)
During the boom times in the early 2000s, the business grew rapidly, outgrowing its Brewer location. “We were doing about 120 to 140 cars a week in 2003 and by 2006, it was 250 to 280 a week,” recalled Kevin. In 2004, CMAC moved to a new 15-acre site in Hermon, and Kevin and Cathy knew it was time to rethink their lives. They sold the dairy farm, and Cathy quit her job teaching to join the business full-time.
They are a good pair. Both are hardworking and ambitious. Kevin’s self-proclaimed style is relaxed yet watchful. “I’m not a micromanager,” he said and then adds after a moment, “but I like to be involved in everything.”
Kevin boasts a laconic, dry wit that blossoms when he is at the podium and that helps keep bidders engaged during the fast-moving auction. Cathy is warm and outgoing, much like you remember your favorite sixth grade teacher. She manages the office and is an important presence on sale day. This is a business where strong customer relations are critical to attract and retain buyers, and in addition to Cathy, the company employs three full-time staffers in customer/dealer relations, including Kevin’s cousin Cassandra Tilton, who also manages personnel for both auction centers.
The Tiltons’ three daughters – Meagan (currently enrolled at Tufts Medical School), Emily, a high school senior, and Elise, a junior – have all helped out with the family business since they were young.
The Tiltons have overseen a remarkable era of expansion in the business over the past 10 years. In 2008, with the auto auction now selling upwards of 350-400 vehicles a week, the Tiltons purchased a second, 20-acre location in Auburn – the Southern Maine Auto Auction – where they hold the weekly Tuesday sale. They have also added regular real estate, equipment and general merchandise auctions to their growing list of services, as well as repossession and reconditioning services.
To help with the business, the Tiltons rely on a regular staff of 22, including several family members, that frequently swells to 50 on auction days with part-timers who help drive vehicles, register bidders and clean vehicles.
“It always seems to snow on Tuesdays,” said Kevin. That means it takes a small army to plow the lot, clean cars and make sure everything looks its best in time for the 10 a.m. auction start. Kevin is particularly fond of the part-timers who come in to help during the auction and boasts that the current crew includes a retired CEO, a former university president and a former professional baseball player. The Tiltons credit their staff with helping the business grow.
“We are so lucky,” said Cathy. “This is a great staff.”
“I think it’s the best crew we’ve had in 20 years,” said Kevin.
Over the past 25 years, the Tiltons have established a well-earned reputation for fairness, professionalism and good marketing that brings in buyers from across New England. It was this reputation that won CMAC the job liquidating the large fleet of heavy equipment and real estate holdings of a Maine construction firm in June 2010. The two-day sale was a major event, and introduced many in the transportation industry to the auction company.
“That sale really put us on the map with a lot of MBTA members and people in the construction community,” said Kevin, adding that since that time, CMAC has developed a brisk consignment business with several construction firms. “For a lot of companies, it’s easier to have us handle the sale of equipment that’s aging out when they want to update their fleet.”
CMAC typically holds its equipment auctions on Fridays, to ensure they get the best audience. It helps that the firm has developed a healthy on-line buyer community through EquipmentFax, and reaches out to buyers in Canada and South and Central America. That, said Kevin, keeps bidding lively and prices strong.
CMAC joined the MBTA a couple years ago and already has become an active supporter. They were a major sponsor of the 2011 MBTA Infrastructure Golf Tournament in July, and a gold sponsor of the Fall Convention. Kevin was quick to get involved with the organization, agreeing to serve as auctioneer at the 2011 MBTA Convention live auction. The Tiltons also regularly support community activities and have donated their time and talents to organizations including the National Kidney Foundation of Maine. Their middle daughter Emily, who has completed auctioneering college and is a high school field hockey standout, recently was auctioneer for the Bangor YMCA’s annual fundraiser, one of her first professional gigs.
Emily’s interest in the family business is a good indication that CMAC will continue to go strong with a fourth generation of Tiltons at the helm. Kevin said he would like to see the business continue, because he believes that CMAC really gets to know its customers and offers them a level of service that a large national auction firm cannot.
“We’re just small enough to offer the kind of personal service that makes a difference,” said Kevin.
At a glance: Central Maine Auction Center
Founded in the 1940s by Benjamin R. Tilton, Sr. as Ben Tilton and Sons, a livestock and farm equipment auction. Today, the auction includes twice weekly auto auctions (dealer only) and regular real estate and equipment auctions (open to the public). Also provides repossession, reconditioning and appraisal services.
Headquarters: 15-acre secure auction center in Hermon and 20-acre secure auction center in Auburn
Employees: 22 full time; 18 part-time