AUGUSTA, MAINE — The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) reported that end-of-season figures are in alignment with Governor LePage Administration’s commitment to Maine’s taxpayers of “doing more with less.” With less private development opportunities available, many contractors are submitting lower bids in an effort to keep their employment levels steady and salaries flowing. This helps to strengthen the infrastructure needs of the state, while allowing greater savings to the taxpayer on various transportation projects.
In the 2012 calendar year, MaineDOT projected spending over $214 million for 889 miles of highway paving and reconstruction along with bridge construction and repair work. Through departmental efficiencies and lower than expected bids for these projects, the department was able to realize a savings of approximately $16 million, which was used to achieve 927 miles of improvements.
Among the accomplishments of MaineDOT in 2012 was:
• The opening of the new $65 million Veterans Bridge connecting Portland and South Portland spanning the Fore River.
• I-295 in Portland saw 12 northbound bridges rehabilitated as the second leg of the I-295 Project came to a successful conclusion with no major disruptions to commuters or local business.
• The $9.2 million Naples Bridge and Causeway Project opened in May, replacing the 1954 swing bridge. This new solid concrete structure features a 30 ft. wide navigational channel, rising 10 ft. higher than the swing bridge. This allows marine traffic along with pedestrians to pass beneath the roadway unimpeded, while motorists no longer have to stop on busy Route 302 as boats travel through the channel.
• In Howland, the new $11.7 million Piscataquis River Bridge opened up to traffic, carrying Coffin Street over the Piscataquis River.
• The $14.7 million Acadia Gateway Center administrative and maintenance facility celebrated its opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony in March. This facility supports the Island Explorer bus service helping to ease congestion and improve transportation at Acadia National Park, Mount Desert Island and Bar Harbor.
• The Downeaster passenger train service expanded north to Brunswick with stops in Freeport. This $38 million construction project included track and signal improvements along the route, enhancing the economic opportunities to the region.
• Municipal Partnership Initiative (MPI) allows municipalities to “team up” with MaineDOT to share funding of particular projects that improve safety and create economic opportunity while improving mobility. This new program is designed to focus on municipal projects, reduce red tape and empower local government by expediting construction with the combination of state and municipal money. Nearly 40 MPI Projects have been programmed with 30 completed. This includes Brunswick’s Cook’s Corner intersection. John Foster, Brunswick’s Public Works Director says, “The program was very straightforward. We got quick answers from (the DOT) with minimal paperwork. It went along very smoothly.”
“The savings we were able to achieve is a complete win-win for the residents of Maine,” said MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt. “Governor LePage has tasked us to look for ways to not only stretch the dollar, but to do it in a way that benefits the taxpayer, the business owner and the economic vitality of this state. We continue to move the needle in a positive direction.”
“While every state’s transportation needs will always exceed available funding, creative solutions, forward thinking and innovative practices make the challenge exciting for the future of transportation in Maine,” Bernhardt concluded.