Outlook: Business & Economic Development

Economy could receive $2.02 billion shot in the arm

Matt Wickenheiser
Posted March 13, 2014, at 1:03 p.m.

AUGUSTA — If all funding sources coalesce during the next three years, the Maine economy will experience a $2.02 billion shot in the arm through late 2016.

In the MaineDOT Work Plan released last January, Maine Department of Transportation Commission David Bernhardt unveiled an ambitious schedule of 1,600-plus projects to be completed in 2014, 2015, and 2016 at an aggregate cost of $2.02 billion. The projects cover bridges, highways, ferry systems, seaports, airports, and other transportation categories.

Bernhardt stressed that the Work Plan “outlines all of MaineDOT’s work activities, not just capital projects” involving major reconstruction. The document includes the $455 million budgeted for 425 capital projects in 2014. Among those projects are:

• 54 bridges being replaced or repaired, at an estimated cost of $190 million;

• 73 miles “of state-jurisdiction roads” being rebuilt or rehabilitated for an estimated $68 million;

• 258 miles “of high-priority, improved roads” receiving “preservation paving” at an estimated $72 million;

• The light paving of some 600 miles of less-used roads (see sidebar) at an estimated cost of $27 million;

• 128 multi-modal projects (airports, railroads, seaports, etc.) estimated to cost $69 million. Among these projects are the $11 million Eastport Breakwater reconstruction, $6.9 in capital improvements for the International Marine Terminal in Portland, and $1 million for Portland Fish Pier improvements.

The 2014-16 projects are spread across the state; the Work Plan details them county by county and municipality by municipality. And the projects vary in complexity and price.

In York County, the MDOT will spend $80 million as half of the price for replacing the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge that takes Route 1A over the Piscataqua River between Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H. Another $3.2 million will be spent in Kittery to replace an overpass that carries the Route 1 Bypass over Route 236.

In contrast, the MDOT will spend $41,500 for engineering designs for bicycle-and-pedestrian lane improvements on Route 103 in Kittery.

In Androscoggin County, the state has budgeted $3.665 million to replace the Oakdale Northbound Bridge carrying Washington Street North over the Little Androscoggin River. An estimated $1.65 million will be spent to relocate part of Route 9 and stabilize a slope in Durham, and $265.293 will cover light paving on a section of Route 11 in Minot.

The largest MDOT expenditure in Bangor in 2014 will involve replacing the Union Street Overpass above Interstate 95, a project that will cost $8.895 million and span a few years. In Bar Harbor, the MDOT will rebuild 4.8 miles of Route 3 from Route 223 (Eagle Lake Road) west to a point about a half mile from the Sand Point Road. This project will cost $14 million.

Major projects in Aroostook County include a $5.292 million reconstruction of Route 1 in Blaine and Mars Hill and $6.955 million to rebuild 4.04 miles of Route 161 in Caribou. Down East, the state will replace the Tide Mill No. 2 Bridge on Route 1 in Edmunds Township for $2.1 million and $8.87 million to rebuild 5.33 miles of Route 1 from this bridge south into Whiting. The steel-frame bridge is almost the last of its kind in eastern Maine, and this section of Route 1 has required reconstruction for some years.

The state will also spend $3.544 million to rebuild 3.04 miles of Route 1A in Jonesboro and Whitneyville.

According to Bernhardt, the “projects and activities listed” by the Work Plan for 2014 “are funded and tied to definite [construction schedules].” As contracts are issued and construction begins this spring, contractors and other related companies will benefit — and hire workers who need the jobs.

 

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