The Maine Department of Transportation and Gov. Paul LePage announced plans Tuesday to spend more than $2 billion over the next three years to improve roads, bridges, airports and commerce terminals across the state.
The Maine DOT’s “Three Year Work Plan” will use $100 million in state transportation bonds – approved last November by voters – and federal highway funds to pay for more than 1,600 projects from now until 2016 in all 16 of the state’s counties.
In 2014, a total of 425 projects are scheduled at a cost of $455 million.
Some of the projects are costly, such as the $80 million price tag to replace the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Kittery – an amount that must be matched by the state of New Hampshire. Others, such as the $14 million reconstruction of a 4.8-mile-long stretch of Route 3 in Bar Harbor, will have to be accomplished without disrupting the summer tourist season. At least one project, the proposed $14 million rehabilitation of the western approach to the Route 1 Viaduct in Bath – which looms over the city’s downtown district and Bath Iron Works – will require input from the community to lessen the impact on traffic.
Several airports are due to receive funding assistance under the plan, with the Brunswick Executive Airport, located at the former Naval Air Station, in line for more than $8 million. The airport, which has two runways, can handle corporate jets and small airplanes.
“The work plan represents more than a listing of projects,” LePage said during a news conference in Augusta. “Our transportation infrastructure is the backbone that delivers economic opportunities and good-paying jobs to Maine. That’s why I will continue to support the Maine DOT’s innovative efforts to upgrade our transportation system and to keep stretching that buck.”
LePage and Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt said the three-year work plan will create hundreds of jobs for contractors and construction workers.
They were joined at the news conference by Matt Marks, executive director of the Associated General Contractors of Maine, who said that the unemployment rate within the state’s construction industry has steadily declined since 2012 – going from 26 percent to 17 percent last year.
Marks said he expects that positive trend to continue.
Maine DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said the construction projects will certainly have an impact on motorists, but he hopes that the traveling public will see the bigger picture – that state roads and highways will be made safer.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: