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Election 2013: Maine voters to decide on $100 million transportation bond
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

In about one week, Maine voters will go to the polls to decide whether to authorize nearly $150 million in bonds for infrastructure projects, including road work.

The package of bond questions on the Nov. 5 ballot will include Question 3 – a $100 million transportation bond – to benefit highways, bridges and ports.

Specifically, $76 million would be used for highway improvements and $27 million would be used for bridges. Ports and rail would get $24 million. Local governments would get another $5 million.

In addition, approval of the transportation bond would trigger another $154 million in federal and other funds.

Supporters include Gov. Paul LePage. The Republican governor said the bonds are needed to improve the state’s transportation network.

“Infrastructure projects create good-paying jobs in the construction industry, and our roads, bridges and ports are important economic drivers that help attract and retain jobs,” LePage said in a recent news release.

Several Republican lawmakers oppose tapping bonds to get work done. They say that infrastructure maintenance should be paid for out of the state’s existing revenue.

“The bottom line is this work has to be done. Our roads cannot be neglected,” stated Rep. Ken Fredette, R-Newport. “However, in the long term, we must break the cycle of borrowing to pay for the most fundamental obligations of state government.”

Officials with the Maine Department of Transportation say that “the state needs bonding to keep our transportation system together.”

However, MaineDOT says even with the bond, the agency’s core highway and bridge programs still face a funding shortfall of about $110 million a year.

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