Maine DOT releases new Three-Year Work Plan amid funding challenges

The Three-Year Work Plan includes 2,051 individual work items with a total estimated value of $2.59 billion

January 17, 2020
Madawaska-Edmundston International Bridge
Madawaska-Edmundston International Bridge. Image: Maine DOT

The Maine DOT recently released the 2020 edition of its Three-Year Work Plan, which includes all transportation capital projects and programs, maintenance and operations activities, planning initiatives, and administrative functions for 2020 through 2022.

The Three-Year Work Plan includes 2,051 individual work items with a total estimated value of $2.59 billion.

According to Maine DOT, this Work Plan largely consists of spreading what used to be two years of capital projects over three years to stay within funding and cost constraints. Due to cost increases arising from workforce challenges, work constraints, and other factors, making old projects whole at the beginning of this Work Plan process has required an extraordinary amount of funding. The bottom line on this year's Work Plan is higher than last year's (largely due to increased levels of one-time infusions of federal grant money), higher costs will yield lower levels of capital project production in terms of miles of paving, numbers of bridges, etc.

"This fiscal challenge required us to prioritize even more and rely on less-reliable bond and competitive federal grant funding for basic needs," Maine DOT Commissioner Bruce Van Note said in a statement. "With lower levels of capital project production, we are focusing on essential safety needs, bridges, matching federal funds, and low cost patching of higher-priority roads until normal treatments become fiscally possible. The reality is that we are now competently managing a slow decline of our transportation system until bipartisan funding solutions materialize. The system will not fail immediately, and we will do our best to avoid any serious safety impacts, but holding actions only work for a short time, and the reliability of the system will suffer."

The biggest project in this Work Plan is the replacement of the Madawaska-Edmundston International Bridge. This bridge represents a vital link between Maine and New Brunswick. The current structure is 100 years old and has deteriorated to the point that it is near the end of its useful life.

Last year, the Legislature created the Blue Ribbon Commission To Study and Recommend Funding Solutions for the State's Transportation Systems. Commission members have identified an annual unmet funding need of approximately $232 million. Members recommend that after providing sufficient funding, the state gradually reduces its reliance on bonding. The Commission is continuing to meet this year to try to identify a nonpartisan solution to Maine DOT's chronic funding problem.

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SOURCE: Maine DOT

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