BANGOR, Maine — A proposal aimed at preventing roadside injuries and deaths was among the bills officially killed Thursday during a meeting of the Legislative Council at which members considered appeals from lawmakers whose bills were nixed in an earlier round of deliberations.
HR 2695, or “Ricky’s Mandate,” was proposed by Joel Costonis, a Dexter resident who has worked in the asphalt industry for 15 years. Costonis’ concept called for creating what he called the Maine Department of Roadside Safety, which would have established a system of permitting and inspections for earthwork construction and paving companies working within 10 feet of a public roadway.
Rep. Ray Wallace, R-Dexter, sponsored and submitted a draft bill on Costonis’ behalf, but the Legislative Council voted 7-3 earlier this month not to pass it on to the Maine Legislature because they felt it “lacked merit.” Wallace’s appeal failed after a 5-5 tie vote Thursday.
Costonis said Thursday that he is not giving up on the idea.
“It’s amazing to me that the Legislative Council has the audacity to vote 10 in favor 0 against on a wine tasting permit [sponsored by Senate President Jason Alford]. That shows something to me. That passes 10 to 0 but a [plan] to protect the workers and the people — it’s just disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.”
Costonis came up with the concept in response to the May 7 death of Richard E. Thibodeau Jr., who was killed when he was struck by a Jeep during a parking lot paving job in Orono. Workers and equipment involved in the job were in or near the roadway, according to a police report detailing the accident investigation. The glare of the setting sun was cited as a factor.
A foreman for Harvey’s Paving, Thibodeau was not wearing a high-visibility safety vest when he was struck. Neither cones nor construction signs had been put up at the Forest Avenue worksite.
Police determined that a lack of safety precautions on the part of Harvey’s Paving contributed to Thibodeau’s death. An investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration resulted in five citations and $12,400 in fines for “serious” violations of workplace safety standards.
Costonis, who was hired as Thibodeau’s successor, worked alongside the deceased man’s son until a work-related arm injury sidelined him.