Sen. Diamond voices concerns about privatization of Casco Bay Bridge
Lack of transparency troubles Transportation Committee
AUGUSTA — Sen. Bill Diamond and Rep. Mark Bryant, both Windham Democrats and members of the Transportation Committee, said Tuesday there are still many questions about a first-of-its-kind deal to privatize the operations of the Casco Bay Bridge.
Those questions include why the move wasn’t allowed to be vetted by the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.
“This is a potentially precedent-setting decision by the Maine Department of Transportation, with implications on bridge safety, public workers and public dollars,” said Sen. Diamond, the ranking Senate Democrat on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. “There should be much more transparency with a deal of this scale.”
“This is an irresponsible decision by the Maine DOT that undermines Maine workers and puts Maine jobs at risk,” said Rep. Bryant. “The Transportation Committee wasn’t notified of this decision until after the deal was done, and that’s wrong. Neither the public nor their representatives in Augusta had a chance to weigh in.”
According to a report in the Portland Press Herald, the Maine DOT will enter into a five-year, $3.8 million contract with the Florida-based FDI Services Inc., which will take over the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the Casco Bay Bridge, the largest movable bridge in the state. It is the first such deal for Maine DOT, and is not expected to create any direct savings for the state.
“The need to privatize isn’t clear to me” Diamond said. “The state workers on the bridge have done a fine job and run a tight ship, but now they face layoffs. Meanwhile, the state doesn’t save any money. I have a lot of questions about the benefits of this contract.”
Diamond, Bryant and other committee members will visit the Casco Bay Bridge next week, following a meeting with Maine DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt about the deal to privatize the bridge.