March 23, 2019
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Maliseets to partner with Houlton on additional road work

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians will once again use grant money to help the community repair one of its roadways.

Don Levasseur, who oversees road projects for the tribe, said Wednesday that the Maliseets had secured a $1.1 million grant to reconstruct a 1.1 mile section of the Currier Road in Houlton. The funding was part of a $5 million award given to the Maine Department of Transportation for statewide infrastructure improvements from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Levasseur said the section of the gravel road that will be repaired is currently in such a state of disrepair that it must be closed to through traffic during spring thaw.

As part of the reconstruction work, crews will make drainage and subgrade improvements, safety and sight distance enhancements, install guardrails and more. Survey, design, right-of-way, and environmental clearance work were previously completed with funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal funds.

The reconstruction project will begin next spring. Once the work is finished, the town’s Public Works Department will maintain the section of road.

Levasseur noted that the tribe has an “excellent relationship” with the town. The tribe has used previous funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reconstruct several town and tribal roads in recent years.

During a meeting earlier this week, the Town Council authorized the town manager to waive a $38,000 payment in lieu of taxes from the Maliseets because of the money the tribe has contributed to repair local roads and to fund an environmental project. The tribe owns tax exempt property in Houlton that is held in federal trust for the tribe and as such cannot be taxed, but provisions are made in federal law for the tribe to make payments in lieu of taxes. The tribe has made such payments in the past, as they benefit from municipal services such as road maintenance, education and fire protection.

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