Weekly Radio Address: Investment in roads and communities vital for economic growth
Investment in roads and communities vital for economic growth
Good morning, I’m State Representative Ed Mazurek from Rockland.
Thank you for listening.
This week, I’d like to talk about something we can all relate to – horrible roads. We’ve all seen them in our neighborhoods, on our way to work, or in our travels around the state.
From Bangor to St. Francis and Holden to Bucksport, the potholes, cracks in the roads, and the sometimes impassable bridges damage our vehicles and make it harder for us to get where we need to go.
A recent national transportation study found that 19 percent of our state’s rural roads and 15 percent of all bridges were deficient.
36 percent of Maine’s major rural roads were rated mediocre or fair. In my county, Knox, roads and bridges were among the worst.
These numbers help explain why a recent contest to find the worst road in Maine generated hundreds of photos and stories of collapsed bridges, failed culverts and gaping potholes.
Problems with the Cumberland Street Bridge in Westbrook, which was temporarily closed this week, even made it onto President Obama’s list of reasons for Congress to invest in road improvements and pass his jobs bill.
The bridge is in such bad shape that pieces of it are falling off, after a worker found a 2-foot-by-3-foot hole in the bridge decking.
Lawmakers can not control Maine’s tough weather conditions that harm our roads; but we must prioritize funding to fix them.
A safe and strong transportation network is the foundation of a growing economy.
Our small businesses rely on our roads and bridges to move their products across the state and our working people depend on them to get to their jobs.
Problems with roads can damage our cars, block trucking routes, and- more seriously- cause fatalities.
Rather than making sensible investments in our roads, bridges, and our communities this year, Governor LePage and Republicans in the Legislature were more concerned about appeasing the “slash and burn” rhetoric of the far right.
They cut the highway budget by $230 million and refused to consider a bond package.
Mainers will have to pay for this pound-foolish policy with car repair bills.
The State Legislature must pass a responsible bond package next session to fix our damaged roads and to help improve our communities.
And Congress should pass the president’s jobs bill that invests in improving roads and schools across the country. It will free up money for cash-strapped states to invest in our local infrastructure.
Rep. Chellie Pingree and Rep. Mike Michaud have said Maine would stand to get a minimum of $138 million to fix our roads and bridges, if Congress passes the president’s jobs bill.
That would be a huge help to our state.
We cannot afford to delay targeted investment in Maine’s economy any longer.
The shortsighted road policy on the state level is the worst I’ve seen in my years as a veteran member and former chair of the Transportation Committee.
Public investment is proven to help our communities, from our roads to our schools. It translates to immediate jobs.
Politicians “talk the talk” on job creation, but until leaders take action Maine people will continue to pay the price. This should not be a partisan issue.
Hopefully next year we can hold a contest for the most improved road in the state.
Thank you for listening. I’m Rep. Ed Mazurek from Rockland.