Report outlines 50 most needed transportation improvements in state; Bangor bridge comes in 2nd

Posted Oct. 31, 2013, at 11:04 a.m.
Last modified Oct. 31, 2013, at 4:07 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Bangor’s Union Street Bridge over Interstate 95 is in dire need of an $8.7 million replacement, according to a report released Thursday by a national transportation group. The only road project deemed more important to the state is the reconstruction of a 4.8-mile section of Route 3 in Bar Harbor.

TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that researches transportation and infrastructure issues, released a 24-page report Thursday titled “Maine’s Top 50 Transportation Challenges and Improvements Needed to Address Them.”

“Due to insufficient transportation funding at the federal, state and local level, Maine faces numerous challenges in providing a road, highway and bridge network that is smooth, well-maintained, as safe as possible, and that affords a level of mobility capable of supporting the state’s economic goals,” the report states.

The top 5 priorities outlined in the report are:

• The Reconstruction of the 4.8-mile section of Route 3 in Bar Harbor from about a half-mile west of Sand Point Road to Route 233. More than 10,300 vehicles travel on that road per day The section needs work to make room for pedestrians and bicyclists who use it during busy tourism seasons. The report estimates that will cost $14 million.

• The estimated $8.7 million replacement of Union Street Bridge in Bangor, which the report says is critical because it provides access to Bangor International Airport and the University of Maine at Augusta’s Bangor campus.

• The reconstruction of a roughly 5-mile section of Route 302 in the Portland area, with an estimated price tag of $7.4 million.

• The estimated $3.3 million replacement of Pine Point Crossing Bridge in Scarborough, which passes over a Pan Am railroad track and provides access to coastal beaches, making it important to the local tourism economy.

• Replacing the deteriorated Bar Mills Bridge, which passes from Buxton to Hollis over the Saco River. The estimated cost of that project is $8.3 million.

Projects were ranked based on a scale that included points for categories such as volume of daily travel; the challenge the deficiency poses to the public; the importance of the route to the regional economy; the cost of fixing the deficiency; and the importance of the route to regional or interstate travel patterns.

“Transportation is truly the backbone of Maine’s economy,” said Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “It supports our traditional, natural resources-based industries related to farming, forestry and manufacturing, but it is key to continuing the growth and expansion of tourism, our largest industry.”

Connors heads the Keep Maine Moving Coalition, which supports Question 3 on the Nov. 5 ballot, a $100 million transportation bond issue that would bring in an additional $150 million in matching funds.

“Investing in Maine’s transportation system and eliminating these challenges by improving the condition and efficiency of the state’s roads, highways and bridges will be an effective step in growing the state’s economy, enhancing quality of life and making Maine an attractive place to live, work and visit,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.

Information on all 50 projects may be found in the report’s Appendix.

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