New Maine law boosts fees for bridge work

| 5/5/2008

Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed a four-year plan to raise $160 million to help pay for bridge work in the state. Vehicle fees will fund repair work.

At the encouragement of Baldacci, “An Act to Keep Bridges Safe” was introduced with about a week remaining in the regular session. House and Senate lawmakers zipped the bill – LD2313 – through the statehouse in time to arrive on the governor’s desk before they adjourned for the year.

The new law allows the Maine Department of Transportation to float $160 million in revenue bonds to fund bridge repairs during the next four years. Adding that amount to existing resources, the agency will have $440 million to use for bridge work by 2012.

The state DOT this past year reported 2,000 bridges in the state in fair or poor condition. An additional $50 million to $60 million annually was recommended to maintain bridges.

Supporters say the new funding will allow repair work to be completed on nearly 250 bridges throughout the state. It includes 80 bridge replacements, The Associated Press reported.

The bonds will be paid back through $10 increases to vehicle registrations, title fees and vanity plate fees. The new fees take effect this Sept. 1.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Maine in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor