The Maine Department of Transportation recently released the 2023 edition of its three-year Work Plan, which includes all capital projects and programs, maintenance and operations activities, planning initiatives, and administrative functions for the agency from now through 2025.
[Above image by the Maine DOT]
Maine DOT noted that its updated three-year plan now contains 2,599 individual work items with a total value of $3.94 billion to keep its multimodal transportation system in top shape in order to serve a primarily rural state with challenging geology and weather and a small, spread-out, aging population.
The agency noted that another major challenge complicating the implementation of its Work Plan – a challenge shared by state DOTs across the country – is the rising cost of doing business.
Since 2018, Maine DOT said has experienced construction cost increases averaging 40 to 50 percent, driven by tight labor and materials markets. Because of this, Maine DOT will continue to embrace what it calls the “MacGyver approach” of getting the most customer value from each dollar in its budget.
“Ingenuity and prudent stewardship of public funds is what Maine travelers and taxpayers rightly expect,” explained Bruce Van Note, Maine DOT’s commissioner.
“Strong support for infrastructure at both the federal and state levels gives us reasons to be optimistic about the future of transportation in Maine,” he added.
“We are continuing our shift from making do to making pragmatic progress. If we set reasonable goals that fit Maine’s needs, manage costs with practical ingenuity, and find the funds needed to match available federal funds, all Maine people can realize the enhanced safety, economic opportunity, and quality of life that comes with a better transportation future,” he said.
Van Note pointed out that most federal transportation funding programs generally require state match funding, which is why state funding is critical to unlocking federal funding.
Overall, the agency added that federal funds from grant programs within the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021 and congressionally-directed spending awards represents about 11 percent of the total value of Work Plan items.
Maine DOT noted its updated Work Plan includes nearly $2.2 billion for highway and bridge capital projects. Other notable projects within the plan include:
- Replacing approximately 75 miles of rail on CSX’s Waterville-Mattawamkeag Line and making other track improvements to allow heavier freight cars and increased speeds ($42.5 million).
- Construction of a new hybrid electric vessel for the Maine State Ferry Service to service Lincolnville and Islesboro ($35 million).
- Pedestrian safety improvements in 12 “Heads Up!” communities that have experienced a disproportionate number of pedestrian crashes in recent years ($11.1 million).
- Rural worker/workforce transportation funding opportunities for projects aimed at connecting workers to employment opportunities, especially in rural areas where transportation options are limited ($5 million).
- Preparing a grant application to facilitate improvements on a 2.7-mile-long segment of the Eastern Trail in North Berwick, Wells, and Kennebunk.