Approval of Transportation Bond Critical to Maine Jobs, Governor Encourages Lawmakers to Act

July 8, 2013

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 8
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – As legislators prepare to return this week to Augusta, Governor Paul R. LePage is encouraging them to back a proposal to advance $100 million for transportation projects that will promote economic development and create jobs in the State of Maine.

Governor LePage in March provided legislators LD 1095, An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities. The bill provides $100 million for reconstruction and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation and transit. The money would be matched by an estimated $154,000,000 in federal and other funds.

Governor LePage has made it very clear that by paying our debt to Maine’s hospitals, the State will be in better financial standing than previous years. With Maine’s debt to hospitals now taken care of, the Governor is prompting the 126th Legislature to pass the bond on Tuesday, July 9 when they return to the State House.

“This transportation bond proposal is a good one. If approved, the Department of Transportation will immediately begin to evaluate requests and fund projects based on economic and infrastructure priorities,” said Governor LePage. “Furthermore, contractors and construction workers will be assured with long-term job security and keep the paychecks flowing, which will continue to strengthen Maine’s economy.”

The main priority in passing the Governor’s transportation bond is to fund projects that will create jobs and make Maine more attractive to employers. Construction unemployment currently in Maine is at 26 percent. A $100 million bond would support an estimate 2,800 good paying jobs in construction and related industries. “This is not a bond to pay for railroads or walking paths to nowhere. It will fund port, rail or aviation projects that create jobs or bring employers to the state,” Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt said.

In addition to addressing areas that are most critical for economic opportunity, the bond ensures safe travel for residents and tourists alike. Investments include $46 million to construct, reconstruct or rehabilitate high-priority highways; $5 million for secondary roads; $30 million for bridge replacements and rehabilitation; and $19 million for ports, harbors, passenger railroad, freight, aviation and transit facilities.

Important economy-building projects are at risk without funding, such as improvements to the International Marine Terminal in Portland needed to support the new transatlantic shipping line (Eimskip) recently established in Maine’s largest city. This international connection will likely benefit core Maine industries like fishing, agriculture, and forest products.

It is unclear if Democrats will support the Governor’s transportation bond upon their return Tuesday. Democrats have stated they plan to create a bond package this fall. Although, details have not been released regarding what that package may include.