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MaineDOT History

The following information is a short history of the MaineDOT.

  • 1905: The Maine Department of Transportation originated in 1905 with the establishment of a Commissioner of Highways, appointed by the Governor and Council, to compile statistics, disseminate knowledge, investigate the securing of better highways and advise county and town officers concerning the best and most economical means of building and maintaining highways and sidewalks.
  • 1907: The Commissioner became supervisor of a new State Highway Department, created to apportion money to political subdivisions, plan road improvements and let contracts for road construction.
  • 1913: Both the Department and the Office of Commissioner of Highways are abolished with the establishment of the State Highway Commission, consisting of three members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Council, two members of whom were to serve terms of three years and the third member, as chairman, a term of seven years. Appointment of a Chief Engineer of the State Highway Commission was also authorized at this time as the officer in charge of the Commission’s office and records and all highway construction and maintenance functions.
  • 1921: The Office of Chief Engineer is abolished
  • 1930: The Office of Chief Engineer is reestablished. With the major expansion of the State’s highway system since the 1930’s and increasing State responsibility for highway construction, maintenance and allied activities, the Commission grew to encompass a large central office in Augusta and seven divisional offices located throughout the State.
  • 1972: During the State Government Reorganization Legislation of 1972, the Commission was abolished, and all of its units, functions and activities were incorporated into a new Department of Transportation. The legislation also consolidated within the Department other independent, transportation-oriented agencies of the State, which included the following:
    • Department of Aeronautics (established 1969)
    • The Economic Advisory Board (established 1951)
    • The Maine Port Authority (established 1929)
    • The Advisory Committee of Ferry Service (established 1957)
    • The Scenic Highway Board (established 1969)
    • The Highway Safety Committee (established 1963)
    • Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission (established 1963)

Further, the legislation required the Commissioner of Transportation to organize the Department into five bureaus and one division, specifically, the Bureaus of Administrative Services, Transportation Planning and Services (designated Bureau of Planning in 1974), Aeronautics, Highways, and Waterways and the Legal Service Division (known as Bureau of Legal Affairs); and to organize such other bureaus, divisions and units as he deems necessary to fulfill the duties of the Department.

The Commissioner was authorized to retain members of the Economic Advisory Board, Advisory Committee of Ferry Service, Scenic Highway Board and Highway Safety Committee to serve in an advisory capacity for a period not to exceed two years, and to organize and create advisory committees for purposes and lengths of time as he deems necessary, subject to approval of the Governor and Council.

Subsequently, various functional units have been established within the bureaus of the Department, and in 1974, transportation safety activities of the Department were consolidated in a new Bureau of Safety.

Excerpt from the The Maine State Government Administrative report, 1973-1974 (pp. 434, 437)