October 18, 2018
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Maine sends $460 million projects wish list to Trump

BDN File | BDN
BDN File | BDN
The Carlton Bridge is seen behind the Sagadahoc Bridge from the Bath waterfront on March 11, 2015.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Among the 428 infrastructure projects the National Governors Association is pushing President Donald Trump to take on are a trio of requests from Maine.

Maine is looking for $460 million to help pay for bridge improvements for roads and rail lines as well as barge service between Portland and mid-Atlantic ports.

That’s a small fraction of the hundreds of billions sought nationally for projects, some of which might benefit Maine at least indirectly.

Trump promised during the campaign to pump as much as $1 trillion into “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects to help provide more good jobs and bolster the nation’s economic future.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates the United States needs to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 to keep up with needs.

The president vowed to put forward a plan within his first 100 days and is expected to announce his infrastructure plans in the coming weeks.

Democrats in Congress have said they’re interested in working with him if possible. Republicans are wary about the possible price tag.

Sen. Angus King, Maine’s independent junior senator, told Maine Public recently he hopes Trump includes in his proposal an initiative to provide rural areas with broadband internet, perhaps on the model of the Rural Electrification Agency that started during the Great Depression to bring electricity to remote parts of the country.

While the governors’ group is not releasing its list of requested projects, some states have made public what they asked for. California, for instance, asked for 51 projects that would cost more than $100 billion.

Maine’s Department of Transportation cited three projects that it said were sent to the governors’ association.

It wants $250 million for bridge improvements on its interstate highways “to improve safety and minimize congestion,” projects that already are in line to get done.

It seeks $135 million for a Marine Highway Articulated Barge/Tug Service between Portland’s International Marine Terminal and ports along the Atlantic coast.

The Maine Port Authority says a marine highway would present “a significant opportunity to stimulate economic growth, reduce congestion and wear on roads and highways, and cut down on emissions from freight transportation.”

The New England Marine Highway Project, created in 2010, aims to design, build and operate a tug barge service between northern New England and the port facilities around New York City.

The state also wants $75 million for railroad bridge improvements that would improve speeds, expand freight capacity and help maintain service.

Among some of the other items reportedly included in the still-secret request by governors is a $12 billion rail upgrade between New York City and Newark, New Jersey, a move that would help commercial and passenger rail service going in and out of New England.

Not much has been reported about possible New England projects outside Maine, but Boston is apparently seeking $3 billion to extend MBTA service between Somerville and Medford, while New Hampshire wants $800 million to rebuild 20 miles of Interstate 93 from the Massachusetts border going north.

Other big-ticket items apparently included are two new rail lines in Texas, airport expansions in St. Louis and Seattle and a groundwater preservation project in the Mojave Desert.

For inclusion on the list, projects had to present a national security or public safety emergency, have at least 30 percent of the initial design and engineering work finished, create jobs directly and offer the potential to boost U.S. manufacturing.

Trump’s transition team apparently asked each state to submit three to five projects, but most asked for more. One unidentified state did not ask for anything.

 


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