In this 2019 file photo, crews with the Maine Department of Transportation work on reconstructing storm drains on High Street in Caribou. Maine voters were on track to pass a $105 million transportation bond in Tuesday’s election. Credit: Chris Bouchard | Aroostook Republican

AUGUSTA, Maine — A $105 million transportation bond passed easily in Maine’s Tuesday election, marking the fifth straight year that road and bridge borrowing has passed as lawmakers consider overhauling the funding system.

Question 1 was sailing to passage, according to unofficial returns collected by the Bangor Daily News as of 9 p.m., when the yes side had 76.4 percent of votes to the no side’s 23.6 percent with 31 percent of precincts reporting. It will be matched by $137 million in federal funds.

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* This race will be decided by ranked-choice voting. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of total votes, the Maine secretary of state will conduct a second ballot tally at a later date to determine the winner.

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Voters have never rejected this kind of borrowing package, which has been backed by lawmakers of both parties along with Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and Paul LePage, her Republican predecessor. The state has counted on the annual funding for years.

On the state side, $85 million will go to road and bridge construction and maintenance. The rest will go to other transportation modes, culverts and a renovation to a wharf and bulkhead at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland.

Maine has relied on borrowing as higher-efficiency vehicles make it harder to rely on the gas tax. The state’s Highway Fund had more money in 2006 than it did in 2017 as registration and other fees have accounted for a bigger share of the fund.

Even with the funding, the Maine Department of Transportation estimated it would face a $140 million shortfall in road and bridge maintenance as a state commission considers overhauling Maine’s funding system aiming to propose legislation by 2020.

Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after three years as a reporter at the Kennebec Journal. A Hallowell native who now lives in Augusta, he graduated from the University of Maine in...