The MBTA Transportation Achievement Award luncheon was an inspiring event
On October 17, we celebrated five giants of transportation and public service at the MBTA’s 2014 Transportation Awards. It was our 12th award ceremony, and for me, it was an inspiring event. It offered the chance to recognize five individuals who have made public service and transportation a major part of their life’s work and to see just how much one person can do when they put their mind to it.
This year, we honored Senator Susan Collins with a special “Champion of Transportation” award. This was for her instrumental role in influencing her fellow lawmakers in Washington to support so many critical transportation initiatives in Maine and across the country. In Maine, we have ample evidence of her influence: passage of the landmark truck weight legislation; TIGER grants for the Sarah Mildred Long and Memorial bridges connecting Kittery and Portsmouth; infrastructure investments in our three deepwater ports; and many other critical transportation issues she has successfully advocated for during her congressional career.
The other four recipients were all leaders in our field: former MaineDOT Commissioner John Melrose with Eaton Peabody Consulting — Lifetime Achievement; Paul Bradbury with the Portland Jetport – the Public Service Award; Jack Sutton with Maine Rail Group – the Volunteerism Award; and Greg Dore, Town of Skowhegan – the Advocate Award.
As a member of the MBTA board and, now as president, I have enjoyed working closely with these five Transportation Achievement Award honorees, and I know just how much they do every day to advance our organization’s mission and make transportation in Maine safer and more efficient. I am so happy that this event and these awards will enable others to recognize all the hard work they have done.
If you noticed that this year’s awards were different than they have been in the past, that is because we made some changes since the last time we held the awards seven years ago. In honor of the MBTA’s 75th anniversary, the MBTA Board of Directors had discussed how we could develop some other awards besides the Lifetime Achievement Award. We wanted to recognize others in the MBTA membership who work hard every day to improve Maine’s transportation network. We had shared many ideas and had decided that one good way to celebrate our 75th anniversary was to create four new awards in addition to the traditional Lifetime Achievement Award.
We believed this decision would make the ceremony more personal, as it would recognize different aspects of achievement in transportation, including public service, advocacy and volunteerism. I think we achieved that goal and created an event that hopefully will inspire many others to follow in their footsteps.
This fall has been a busy period for the organization and our members. In addition to the Transportation Achievement Awards, MBTA members and friends have gotten together for two other important events on our annual calendar: the MBTA Fall Convention at the Samoset Resort in Rockport, and the MBTA PDH Tour in Portland.
Both of these events were well attended and fun. It was great to be back at the Samoset, and I thank everyone for their generous participation in the live and silent auctions and as sponsors of the different events. Thanks to your support, we were able to offer a shorter, more economical fall outing experience. The PDH Tour was a big success, as well, and it was great to see so many MBTA members able to join us for learning tours of three innovative transportation projects in Portland – Forefront at Thompson’s Point, the International Marine Terminal and the Anderson Street Neighborhood Byway. We thank Kathi Early from the City of Portland, for helping Conrad Welzel, who chaired that event, pull the projects and speakers together.
We have a busy month ahead of us, too, as we bring 2014 to a close. I hope to see you at the Maine Transportation Conference in Augusta December 4 and at the MBTA Holiday Meeting on December 11. These are two events with a big emphasis on education.
The conference this year will open with a keynote speech by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. We will have three other influential keynote speakers throughout the day: award-winning bridge designer Ted Zoli of HNTB who will open the policy track discussions; NASA astronaut, former U.S. Navy SEAL and native of York, Maine Captain Christopher Cassidy who will deliver the luncheon address; and Ilya Espino de Marotta, executive vice president of engineering for the Panama Canal Authority who will be the featured speaker at the evening banquet.
This year, we will again welcome our most recent MBTA Transportation Scholarship recipients to the Holiday Meeting where we also will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the MBTA’s founding. It should be a fun evening. Please let Maria Fuentes know if you are interested in sponsoring either of these events.
Finally, I would like to thank you for your support of and participation in MBTA’s events this year. Looking back over the year – and over the past 75 years – it is amazing to see how much we have achieved. None of it would be possible without the support and commitment of our membership. Thank you!