In his July 18 column (“Real Maine ingenuity lost in the din of fireworks”) Bill Nemitz makes an unfair comparison between Gov. LePage’s response to the fireworks industry coming to Maine and the “bridge in a backpack” technology developed at the University of Maine. The truth is, both are economically good news and are helping to create immediate employment as well as long-term vision.
The “bridge in a backpack” was accurately described as “cutting-edge by which composite arch bridges can be built faster, lighter and stronger than conventional concrete or steel bridges.” What the columnist failed to mention is this development has continued under the direction of Gov. LePage. In fact, Maine DOT was awarded the 2011 “Charles Pankow Award for Innovation” recognizing the department as a collaborator on “bridge in a backpack.”
MaineDOT has built five of these bridges, with two more under construction, more than any other state. Under Gov. LePage, MaineDOT nominated these bridges to the Technology Implementation Group of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Chief Engineer Kenneth Sweeney, as chair of this group, works tirelessly to promote this technology to chief engineers around the country.
Under my direction, along with Chief Engineer Sweeney, Maine DOT supports this research with funds to develop further improvements, including designing longer bridge spans and shapes, making them even more marketable to all states.
Maine DOT, under the LePage Administration, works with private industry and the university system to develop a “skilled composite workforce” which will benefit Maine and the construction industry nationally.
Gov. LePage is on the same page as the department when it comes to the development of cutting-edge technology in Maine. This commitment will not always call for a press release, but does call for hard work, dedication and innovation. Welcome to the LePage Administration.
David Bernhardt is the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation.
This story was updated at 8:30 on Thursday, July 19, 2012 to correct the title of the writer.