Voters say ‘YES’ to $100 million transportation bond
72% approval affirms Maine voters support for transportation
Maine voters approved Question 3, the $100 million transportation bond, by 72 percent, the largest such margin since 2007. A compromise between Maine’s legislative Democrats and Republican Governor Paul LePage, the bond is expected to bring an additional $150 million in federal and other matching funds, to be used for long needed road, bridge and port reconstruction and rehabilitation. The plan would apply $76 million towards roads, $27 million for bridges and $24 million for ports, rails and planes. And $5 million will help fund the Maine Department of Transportation’s Municipal Partnership Initiative.
The bond was one of five bonds put on the statewide ballot by the Maine Legislature during a special session late this summer, and it enjoyed strong support from Maine Governor Paul LePage and legislators on both sides of the aisle, even some who have traditionally opposed public borrowing.
“The bottom line is this work has to be done. Our roads cannot be neglected,” Representative Ken Fredette (R-Newport), told Land Line magazine. “However, in the long term, we must break the cycle of borrowing to pay for the most fundamental obligations of state government.”
Officials with the Maine Department of Transportation said, even with the bond, the agency’s core highway and bridge programs still face a funding shortfall of about $110 million a year.
“Maine has more highway miles than any other state in New England, but we have the lowest level of funding per mile. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 33 percent of our roads are in poor or mediocre condition, and one-third of our bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete,” wrote Transportation Committee Chair Ken Theriault (D-Madwaska) and fellow committee member Representative Archie Verow (D-Brewer) in an opinion piece for the Bangor Daily News.
MBTA threw its efforts behind bond passage, rounding up support for the YES on Question 3 Coalition and participating in Portland and Hampden press conferences with AGC Maine and The Road Information Program (TRIP) in the days leading up to the election. At the press conferences, TRIP released a report that identified and ranked Maine’s top 50 transportation challenges. Those transportation challenges include 12 sections of major roads or highways that need significant repairs or reconstruction; 19 major bridges in the state that have significant deficiencies and need to be rebuilt or reconstructed; one improvement to a maritime facility; and 18 sections of the state’s transportation system that need improvements to address multiple challenges by improving safety, increasing access or improving road or bridge conditions.
The bond includes funding for several of those projects, including funding for improvements to the International Marine Terminal in Portland, a project MaineDOT’s Deputy Commissioner Bruce Van Note has called “transformative.”
“There was a strong feeling this year that Maine needed these investments, to fix our roads and to fix our economy,” said MBTA President Tom Gorrill. “MaineDOT was counting on this bond to keep its work plan on track, and frankly, it is a relief for everyone in the industry that it passed.”
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday, November 5 and ultimately approved all five bonds on the statewide ballot, including borrowing for Maine Maritime Academy, repairs to Maine armories, the state community college system and the University of Maine system.
Vote YES on #3 Coalition
Action Committee of 50
American Council of Engineering Companies
Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Buxton Communications LLC
CLD Consulting Engineers, LTD.
Eastport Port Authority
Eaton Peabody Consulting Group
Maine Automobile Dealers Association
Maine Better Transportation Association
Maine Chapter, American Public Works Association
Maine Innkeepers Association
Maine Section American Society of Civil Engineers
Maine State Chamber of Commerce
Maine Transit Association
National Association of Women in Construction, Maine Chapter