Paul Cunningham’s Dec. 29 letter asks whether Bruce Van Note, the nominee to head the Maine Department of Transportation, had some responsibility for the misdeeds of Paul Violette at the Maine Turnpike Authority and whether it is turnpike policy to undermine public transit. The answer to both is “no.”

Paul Violette resigned in 2011 while Bruce Van Note was a deputy commissioner at DOT. In that capacity, Van Note was instrumental in getting the turnpike board to appoint me and Roger Mallar as new turnpike leaders on March 17, 2011.

We audited Violette’s misdeeds, sued him, supported a criminal conviction, stripped him of his collectible assets and obtained a full recovery of what he took by pursuing claims against the bonding companies.

Van Note helped me and the Legislature to prepare and pass laws to overhaul managerial practices of the turnpike and 24 other “quasi-state” agencies whose governance structures are similar to the turnpike’s.

In regard to public transportation, the turnpike:

Contributes $120,000 annually to support the Zoom bus from Biddeford to Portland.

 Owns and operates 882 park-and-ride spaces.

Gave land to create the bus station at Exit 75 in Auburn.

 Runs statewide ride-sharing through Go Maine.

 Created the Wells Transportation Center, with its train station, bus depot and 100 parking spaces.

Several years after Violette left, the turnpike hired Van Note to work as director of policy and planning. It is part of his job to oversee these transit initiatives, which he has gladly done.

At Van Note’s instigation, the turnpike and DOT are currently exploring new transit options with the highly skilled and respected managers of Portland Metro. Public transit in a rural state is difficult. Careful planning is required to avoid squandering money on transit that no one uses.

The seven-member turnpike board, chaired by Dan Wathen, has consistently supported the turnpike’s prudent engagement in transit initiatives.

Peter Mills

executive director,

Maine Turnpike Authority