February 8, 2015

Investing in Maine's transportation infrastructure - By Bill Diamond

Maintaining the transportation infrastructure for such a large and rural state like Maine is a challenge. The needs of travelling Mainers and visitors are directly reliant on the quality and upkeep of our roads, rail, air and ferry services. Recently, the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) unveiled its 3-year Work Plan for major construction projects for all transportation modes; smaller construction and maintenance projects; plowing and summer road maintenance; bus, rail and ferry operations; sidewalks, trails and more. All-in-all, the plan totals over $2 billion in direct investment in Maine’s infrastructure and economy. 
While the amount is significant, it is greatly needed. Just to give you an idea of the scope of the operational costs involved at MDOT, approximately $1 million is spent for each average snow storm in the state. Severe storms such as freezing rain and ice usually cost even more, due to the increased need for road maintenance. Whether they are plowing, sanding, or otherwise improving highway safety, MDOT crews do their best to keep all of us safe when there are dangerous road conditions.

This direct investment in our roads and infrastructure will also boost our state’s economy in many ways through solid and good-paying jobs within the construction industry and the positive effect on local businesses connected by their presence. 

As a member of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I am pleased to report that the municipalities in our Senate District are scheduled for multiple construction, maintenance, and paving projects resulting in millions of dollars of needed highway and local road improvements. Additional projects include bridge repairs, bike and pedestrian upgrades, new traffic signals and increasing drainage capacity. In fact, the MDOT 2015-2017 Work Plan total for our district is $10,465,639. These investments will vastly improve our infrastructure, as well as increase the safety of our roadways.  

I am hopeful we will also be able to provide funding for additional projects as the need arises. I will be holding public forums focused on further discussion of the infrastructure needs throughout the district. Please stay tuned for updates on when and where these gatherings will be held. It is very important to hear directly from those whose travel daily on our roads and bridges. 

While we still have a few more months of winter before we can start seeing these projects in action, the complete Work Plan details can be viewed at www.maine.gov/mdot. The website also offers an interactive feature which allows a search for projects by municipality. Please feel free to contact me at diamondholly@aol.com or (207) 287-1515 with any feedback or concerns that you may have.

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