Transportation Bond Supports Jobs and Economic Development Opportunities

August 12, 2013

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 12
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Lawmakers could provide a boost to Maine’s economy if they choose to approve a transportation bond this week. Members of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee meet Tuesday in Augusta to discuss a variety of issues, including a $100 million transportation bond. The bond provides funding for improvements to highways and bridges, as well as ports and railroads.

Governor Paul R. LePage proposed the bond in March. However, Democrat leadership has failed to move the measure forward, despite broad bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans, alike.

“Our roads and ports continue to be a focus of economic opportunity that helps create jobs, and while the federal government is sitting on the sidelines regarding transportation funding, now is the time for the State to invest in needed infrastructure improvements,” Governor LePage said.

“Democratic leadership so far has failed to act, and timing is critical. The Secretary of State’s Office needs bonds approved for the November ballot in the middle of August. The early deadline ensures our military troops overseas receive an opportunity to vote – surely a right our uniformed men and women deserve,” continued Governor LePage.

Maine’s transportation capital goals are behind and more fuel efficient vehicles on the roads contribute to declining fuel tax revenue to fund projects. Even with the approval of $100 million, The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) core highway and bridge programs face a funding shortfall.

The transportation bond provides $81 million for improvement to highways and bridges, and it provides job stability to those in the construction industry, where more than 8,000 jobs have been lost since 2006. Another $19 million is allocated for improvements to multimodal facilities that would support projects such as major development on the Portland waterfront, as well as preserving rail connections for Maine businesses.

“We hope the Appropriations Committee can do its work and the full Legislature can vote on our bond in a special session this August,” said Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt. “The few weeks between a special session in August versus September will mean seven months of delay for projects critical to Maine’s economy. It will mean lost jobs in Maine. It will mean missed opportunities for economic development.”