It might feel like voters are always being asked to pony up more money for Maine’s roads and bridges. Indeed, in 2012, 2013 and just last year, bonds totaling tens of millions of dollars were approved at the polls.

But those funds are barely sufficient for maintaining the state’s transportation infrastructure – the highways, bridges, ports, railways and paths that allow businesses to move goods, and residents and tourists to travel safely. That’s why we are endorsing a yes vote on Question 6 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

If voters approve the Question 6 transportation bond – just as they have, by wide margins, previous transportation bonds – the state will borrow $100 million, leveraging an additional $137 million in federal funds toward the $2.2 billion the state Department of Transportation plans to spend in the next three years.

While the money is not tied to any particular projects, $80 million from the state bond will go toward improving the highest-priority highways and bridges. The remaining $20 million will be earmarked for multi-modal projects – ports, harbors, rail, aviation, bike-pedestrian paths and transit facilities.

That money is necessary to keep up with work on thousands of miles of roads in Maine – twice as many miles, in fact, as New Hampshire has, though we receive only half the federal funding that our neighboring state does.

That’s part of the reason why major roads here are falling behind – 33 percent statewide are considered poor or mediocre, including 61 percent in Portland and 40 percent in Bangor – and part of the reason why there is a projected $150 million annual shortfall in transportation spending moving forward.


It is also a factor in the deterioration of many of the hundreds of bridges in Maine, a problem with sometimes dangerous consequences.

So, far from being extravagant, the bond represented by Question 6 is just part of the normal spending necessary to keep roads from crumbling. It also is an investment that is returned to taxpayers in many ways.

First, solid transportation infrastructure makes it easier for businesses to operate and allows Maine’s 34 million annual visitors to take in all the sights they can.

The transportation bond will also support Maine’s construction industry, which lost a quarter of its workforce in the Great Recession and is still well short of its pre-recession strength. According to a 2007 analysis by the Federal Highway Administration, every $1 billion spent on highway construction supports 27,800 jobs, including 9,500 jobs in construction alone, a sector that in Maine pays higher-than-average incomes.

We get a lot for our transportation spending – safe roads, free-flowing commerce and good jobs. For that, Question 6 deserves your vote.

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