Voters in Maine on Tuesday, Nov. 5, approved nearly $150 million in bonds for infrastructure projects, including road work.
The package of bond questions on the fall ballot included Question 3 – a $100 million transportation bond – to benefit highways, bridges and ports.
The favorable vote continues a recent trend in the state. Mainers have approved every transportation bond since the mid-’80s.
The question passed with nearly 70 percent of voters backing the plan to apply $76 million for highway improvements and $27 million for bridges. Ports and rail will get $24 million. Local governments will get another $5 million.
In addition, approval of the transportation bond triggers another $154 million in federal and other funds.
Gov. Paul LePage backed the bond question during the time leading up to the election. 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 opposed tapping bonds to get work done. They said 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 even with the bond, the agency’s core highway and bridge programs still face a funding shortfall of about $110 million a year.
For more 2013 election coverage from Land Line, click here.