Gov.-elect Janet Mills announced Thursday that she will nominate Houlton native Bruce Van Note to serve as the next commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation.

Van Note is now the director of policy and planning for the Maine Turnpike Authority.

He has 25 years of experience in the transportation field in Maine, including 12 years as deputy transportation commissioner, when he managed every aspect of the department, including policy, legislative affairs, strategic planning, budget, capital project delivery, maintenance and operations, and freight and businesses services.

“Bruce’s experience and skills make him well-qualified to lead the Maine Department of Transportation,” Mills said in a prepared statement. “As a (former) member of the Legislature and as Attorney General, I became familiar with his depth of knowledge, policy acumen, and reputation for honesty – all of which will serve the people of Maine well.”

Van Note is the fourth person to be named to the incoming governor’s Cabinet and will face hearings before the Legislature’s Transportation Committee as well as a confirmation vote in the Senate.

If confirmed, he will be responsible for most of Maine’s transportation systems, including 8,818 miles of highway and 2,742 bridges, as well as airports, seaports, railroads, transit buses and ferries. He will oversee MDOT’s 2,000 employees and annual expenditures that average $650 million.


Van Note said he was honored and humbled by the selection.

“Safe, reliable and easy travel is part of what makes us Maine and what makes a real difference in people’s lives every day – whether it’s a safe and predictable trip to work, a vibrant downtown that works for everyone, an efficient delivery of goods, or a trip to one of the hundreds of special spots across the state,” he said. ” I look forward to working with Gov.-elect Mills, members of the Legislature, Maine DOT staff, and industry and municipal leaders to improve our transportation system and take it to the next level.”

Van Note, 58, lives in Topsham with his wife, Susan. They have four adult sons.

Van Note has held his policy position with the turnpike authority since 2014. He manages major planning efforts for multimillion-dollar improvements along the Interstate 95 turnpike corridor, including the implementation of high-speed tolling, widening and safety improvements in the Greater Portland area, and planned interchange improvements.

From 2002 to 2014, Van Note served as deputy transportation commissioner.

He “participated in the envisioning, drafting and passage of almost every major piece of state transportation legislation, including Highway Fund budgets, general obligation bonds, multimodal funding, transportation debt policy, prioritization of state highways, local road assistance, design-build contracting, public-private partnerships and the turnpike reform bill,” the statement from the Mills administration said.


Van Note served on the board of directors for the turnpike authority from 2009-14, chaired the Maine Port Authority from 2011-14 and directed the Office of Policy and Communication at the MDOT from 2000-02. Before that he was the principal attorney for engineering and construction in the transportation department.

Van Note is currently on the board of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, is the chair of the legislative committee of the Maine Better Transportation Association and is a member of the Topsham Planning Board. In 2017, he was awarded the Spirit of America Award for outstanding community volunteerism by the Sagadahoc County Commissioners.

In addition to his public service, Van Note previously owned and operated a small surveying and land use consulting firm in the Brunswick area; had a part-time solo legal practice specializing in alternative dispute resolution, land use and real estate; and was an associate attorney focused in real estate at an Auburn law firm.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in surveying engineering from the University of Maine at Orono, and a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.

Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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