RADIO ADDRESS: Construction season highlights the need to pass critical infrastructure bonds

Posted: May 17, 2018 | Senator Miramant, Transportation, Weekly Radio Address

In Maine, our roads, bridges, ports and waterways are what connect our cities, towns and communities to one another, from along the coast to the northern Maine woods. We rely on them to go to school, work and even just the grocery store. To put it simply, the integrity of Maine’s infrastructure is vital to the viability of our communities and economy.

Hi, this is Senator Dave Miramant from Camden. Thanks for tuning in.

As the lead Senate Democrat on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, I receive regular briefings and information about the conditions of Maine’s network of roads, bridges, highways and other transportation infrastructure. But you don’t need to be a state senator to know the conditions of our roads.

For one thing, just look around—there is construction everywhere. Now that the snow has melted, we have officially entered construction season. This construction isn’t just a response to the harsh winters. Much like the rest of the country, our roads and bridges could use some serious work.

A report from the American Society of Civil Engineers ranked Maine’s infrastructure with C- grade, citing poor conditions unable to support the increase in traffic. Although Maine earned a higher grade than the national average, it is still a good reminder that we cannot take our infrastructure for granted.

In the report, Maine roads, specifically, earned a D grade, due primarily to deterioration and persistent funding shortages. More than 20 percent of our public roads are considered to be in poor condition. We need to invest in the maintenance and upkeep of our roads, bridges and waterways so they can safely support us well into the future.

Last year, I introduced two large-scale bonds to support the Department of Transportation in their efforts to maintain the integrity of our state’s infrastructure system. But due to the shutdown and heated budget negotiations, these bonds were carried over for consideration this session. One bond would invest $100 million in highways, bridges and multimodal facilities. The other would invest $50 million in the enhancement and expansion of the rail service in our state.

However, when the Legislature abruptly adjourned earlier this month, lawmakers went home without approving these bonds as well as a number of other vital bonds.

Together, these bonds account for the $160 million annual shortfall in the Department of Transportation budget. Without these essential funds, the Department will be forced to put critical projects on hold for another year or until they receive the funds. These are projects that communities all across the state desperately need. We’ve already put off this work once. We cannot afford to put it off any longer.

We have a number of things left to do for the people of Maine. It’s time for lawmakers to come back in and finish the work.

This is Senator Dave Miramant, thank you for listening.