A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

UPDATE: MDOT releases final stimulus project list; no funding for Bayside bridge

The Portland Press Herald today ran a story on MDOT's final draft of stimulus-funded highway projects for the state. There are some key differences between this list of projects and the previous list, whose projects were far more expensive than the amount that Maine will receive through the stimulus's transportation grants.

Here's the list of projects in full. In summary, Maine will receive $130 million in "highway" funds (that includes funds for sidewalks and bike lanes). Of that, $14 million will rebuild or repair bridges; $51 million will repave interstate highways; $61 million will repave other state roads and highways.

The stimulus bill allocated 3% of highway funds to the "Transportation Enhancements" program, which pays for traffic calming, sidewalks, trails, and other projects to promote sustainable transportation. MDOT is budgeting $2 million for stormwater pollution mitigation projects in the Long Creek watershed of South Portland, where acres of parking lots and arterials dump oil-soaked runoff into the state's most polluted waterway. And another $2 million will pay for sidewalks in Dover-Foxcroft and Ellsworth.

There will be no funds for the Bayside Trail or the Hodder's Folly Overpass - apparently MDOT had serious concerns that the latter project, which hasn't even been designed yet, won't satisfy the "ready to build within 120 days" requirement. Portland will receive funds for a new traffic light and better crosswalks on Auburn Street at the Lyseth Moore school driveway, but that's about all we'll get.

The final MDOT list also includes $13.25 million for new transit vehicles: 13 city buses, 6 small buses or vans for rural transit, and $7.4 million for a new ferry to Vinalhaven. The transit budget is less than 10% of Maine's total stimulus funding, which is ridiculously low and far lower than what other states will receive. This is because other states have their acts together with better and more comprehensive transit plans and more "ready to build" projects. MDOT's failure is Maine's loss and Massachusetts's gain.

Funding for rail projects - particularly the $35 million project to extend the Downeaster to Brunswick - will come from separate programs.

The other projects that I'd written about yesterday
but aren't on this official stimulus list are still in the pipeline to get built; they'll just be funded through conventional gas tax revenues, which means we shouldn't hold our breaths for them.

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