Maine voters approved the transportation bond by a margin of almost 3-to-1. With that victory behind us, the MBTA leadership looks to a role in reshaping the future of transportation in Maine.
By Douglas Hermann, MBTA President
The people have spoken. The voters have once more said they believe that transportation investments are important to them and their communities. A whopping 73 percent of Maine voters went to the polls on November 6 and voted in support of Question 4, the $51.5 million transportation bond. By a large majority, Mainers want their transportation network fixed and they want Mainers put to work to make it happen. Investing in transportation not only fixes roads and bridges, it creates good jobs here at home. The people of Maine understand that even in these hard times, investing in transportation is a smart business move, that you have to spend money to make money. If all you’re doing is cutting, then things just get worse.
To be frank, the MBTA Board of Directors knew the outcome was anything but assured. There has been negative talk about bonds during the past several years, and it wasn’t until late October when polling data indicated voters were favoring passage by a healthy margin, that we felt more confident that the bond would pass.
I’d like to thank the MBTA Board of Directors, MBTA members and the 18 organizations that joined the Yes on Question 4 Coalition for their efforts to get this bond passed. Whether you helped recruit coalition members, wrote letters or editorials for your local paper, distributed fact sheets or just talked the bond up with your family, friends and co-workers, your help made all the difference.
In this issue of the magazine, you can read about some of those efforts, including a very successful press conference at H.O. Bouchard Inc., in Hampden. There’s nothing like one of the state’s largest freight operations, whose trucks log 4.75 million miles every year on Maine roads to give weight to the argument that bad roads cost businesses money – and that those costs are passed on to the Maine consumer. Many thanks to Brian and Jeff Bouchard, Irv Smith and Steve Whitcomb for their help.
The fact is, this year Maine had a record voter turnout all over the state and Question 4 received the most votes on the ballot by far. We hope our leaders are trying their best to improve conditions in Maine, hear just how important these investments in our roads, bridges, ports, transit, rail and aviation are to the people of Maine – and how much Mainers need the jobs this bond will create and support.
Two years ago, Governor LePage came into office promising to create jobs and to get Maine’s economy working again. Thankfully, the economy is finally showing signs of recovery. Now is a very good time to make targeted, well-planned investments in transportation to help cement those gains. This bond is relatively modest – it puts only $51.5 million toward the $150 million per year transportation funding shortfall that Maine faces over the next decade. Still, it has the potential to really help Maine’s economy in both the long and short runs. It will create or support more than 3,100 jobs, and it will enable us to make our roads and bridges safer and more efficient.
We all want to see our economy recover. We all want improved prosperity for hardworking families and business. We all want to put Maine people and Maine businesses first. By voting for Question 4, a large majority of Mainers said they believe that investing in transportation is a good way to do just that.
Finally, I would like to urge you all to set time aside for two important events in December. There is the Maine Transportation Conference on December 6at the Augusta Civic Center. MBTA co-sponsors this event with the Maine Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) MaineDOT. This year, not only is there the keynote address by Susan Binder of Cambridge Systematics and a full day of policy and technical presentations, the ASCE will be releasing the 2012 Maine Infrastructure Report Card at the conference.
There’s also the MBTA Holiday Meeting on December 13 at the Black Bear Inn in Orono. This is the last event of MBTA’s calendar year and the wrap up of the Super Raffle fundraiser for the MBTA Educational Foundation and we again hope to have all of our 2012 scholarship winners at the event. It’s also a great chance to catch up with your MBTA friends before the New Year. I hope to see you all there.