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Baldacci Proposes $25M Highway Bond to Bolster Funding

Wed May 03, 2006 - Northeast Edition
CEG



AUGUSTA, ME (AP) Gov. John Baldacci is proposing $25 million in new borrowing to bolster funding for highway projects in Maine.

A gubernatorial task force pegged the immediate need for funding at $90 million and Baldacci said his proposal would be a first installment.

According to the administration, Maine has authorized less general obligation debt during this biennium than at any time in recent history and state debt per capita, even when adjusted for income, remains well below the New England and national averages.

“By every measure, we have the fiscal capacity to invest in Maine,” Baldacci said in a prepared statement. “And we have the leadership obligation to invest in our future.”

Officials had previously attributed a $130 million funding shortfall to a decline in federal funds and increases in construction material costs due to Hurricane Katrina and growing demand in China.

Recently, officials listed a number of deferred projects that could be rescheduled, ranging from highway reconstruction on Route 109 in Wells and Route 2A in Houlton to bridge replacements in Turner and Leeds.

“The bipartisan working group estimates that the deferred projects would support between 1,000 and 2,500 jobs. According to the Federal Highway Administration, each million dollars in highway spending supports about 31 jobs. A $25 million dollar investment will support more than 700 well-paying jobs that support working Maine families,” Baldacci said.

In its Jan. 31 report, the Governor’s Capital Transportation Funding Working Group said its work was not done.

“Looking forward, the Working Group found that capital transportation needs are chronically underfunded and the current transportation funding model is neither adequate nor sustainable for funding Maine’s transportation infrastructure, now or in the future,” the report said.

“Accordingly, it is recommended that work continue toward identifying alternative funding options to meet this long-term challenge.”