October 29, 2013

Large Maine transportation bond has history on its side

It has a hefty $100 million price tag, but Mainers have a record of approving money for transportation.

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Although the bond does not earmark money for specific projects, here is a general breakdown of where the funds would go:

$44 million to the Maine Department of Transportation for priority highway projects.

$5 million for the DOT’s Secondary Road Program Fund, which provides funds to communities that match 50 percent of the cost of the project.

$27 million to the DOT to replace or rehabilitate existing bridges.

$24 million for to-be-determined multimodal projects, including rail, harbors, aviation, marine transportation and mass transit, as well as to acquire property and make improvements at the International Marine Terminal in Portland.

The total estimated lifetime cost of the bond is $122 million, which assumes 4 percent interest over 10 years.

Question 3 has the support of the Mayors Coalition, which represents Maine’s biggest cities. The group is holding a press conference Tuesday in Augusta to encourage Mainers to support all five of the bond referendums on the Nov. 5 ballot. The Portland Regional Chamber also supports all of the bond referendums, including Question 3.

Some priority projects in Greater Portland include rebuilding a stretch of busy U.S. Route 302 in Bridgton; ramp and intersection improvements at Forest Avenue and Interstate 295; improvements to Woodfords Corner in Portland, a perennial traffic headache; and building a bike and pedestrian pathway on Main Street in South Portland.

Fuentes said she thinks the state’s investment in multimodal projects, such as the International Marine Terminal, has produced a good return.

One example was the state’s 2010 purchase of 233 miles of railroad in northern Maine from Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, which had threatened to abandon the line. The state bought the tracks for $20.1 million – more than $11 million of that from bonds. The state has been leasing the tracks ever since to Irving Oil, which hauls crude oil from Montreal to its refinery in New Brunswick.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:


Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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