Local school cuts also restored
March 4, 2009
AUGUSTA — Portland Democratic representatives announced today that the Maine Department of Transportation has given the green light to local projects, which received a portion of the federal recovery package funds that were sent to Maine. They also announced that the cuts to local schools will now be halted because of federal dollars.
Nearly $4.4 million has been earmarked for seven transportation projects in Portland. The largest projects are replacement of the Veranda Street Bridge and infrastructure improvements to improve the quality of stormwater runoff to the Long Creek watershed. Other projects include resurfacing of portions of I-295 southbound, Cumberland Avenue, Westbrook Street and Forest Avenue.
“This is an excellent opportunity to invest in our long-term infrastructure needs while creating much-needed jobs for our region,” said Rep. Diane Russell.
The Transportation Department identified a number of projects around the state that were highest on its priority list and is ready to begin construction as soon as the bidding process is complete. The state has set a goal of completing all projects during the upcoming construction season.
“These are badly needed investments in our local infrastructure," said Rep. Peter Stuckey. “They'll also help retain good paying jobs in an important sector of our economy.”
In addition, the difficult cuts made to local school budgets by Gov. John Baldacci and the Legislature at the beginning of this year will be restored. While the upcoming biennial budget for fiscal year 2009 to 2011 will still have to close an $838 million budget gap, support for schools will not drop further and there will be a one-time infusion of federal dollars from other parts of the recovery package.
“Restoring the budget cuts to Portland schools will directly benefit kids in the short- and long-term,” said Rep. Steve Lovejoy. “The school district must now look to invest in infrastructure and energy efficiencies that will strengthen our schools and save money in the long run.”
Further information about how the recovery package funds will be invested will be coming out in the following weeks.
Kyle Leighton, communications director, 287-1433