The Maine Department of Transportation released an update to its $3.17 billion three-year transportation work plan that includes potential funding additions from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA signed into law in November 2021.
[Above photo by the Maine DOT]
“Action at the federal, state, and local levels may mean that we may soon be able to transition from ‘MacGyver’ mode toward a more proactive approach,” said Bruce Van Note, Maine DOT commissioner, in a statement.
He explained that “MacGyver mode” refers to his agency’s ongoing efforts to address “long-standing chronic unmet transportation funding needs” by “doing the best it can” with what it has.
“It’s too early to tell; we need to know more about goals that affect the scope of our work, construction costs, and the extent and sustainability of new funding,” Van Note added. “Still, for the first time in many years, it feels like we can begin to consider moving from reactive patching to proactive planning.”
Maine DOT said that once the federal funding from the IIJA begins to flow, it would provide an increase in reliable formula funding to help address construction cost inflation fueled by tight labor and material markets.
Further, the IIJA’s “dramatic increases” in competitive discretionary grant programs could provide an “opportunity” to make meaningful infrastructure investments New England villages, connecting corridors, and modal options – including electric vehicle charging stations and maritime port investments.
The agency added that it is also benefitting from improved state-level funding as well. Two state general fund initiatives passed in 2021 should provide nearly $106 million to Maine DOT; saving its capital transportation program by offsetting state Highway Fund revenue reductions driven by the pandemic and high construction cost inflation.
In addition, more than 70 percent of state voters approved a $100 million transportation bond in November 2021, providing a much-needed state match for federal and other funds to support Maine DOT’s capital production, the agency added.
Finally, Maine DOT said its continued expansion of partnerships with stakeholders, including municipalities, is helping target its Long-Range Transportation Plan more precisely to address state-level mobility needs.
For example, the agency is adding a Village Partnership Initiative in 2022 to its suite of community-based initiatives to improve safety by creating lower-speed areas where people meet, walk, shop, and do business.