Maine voters will decide on November 8 whether to approve a $100 million bond initiative to fund the state’s highway and bridge work.
If the bond gets a mandate, the state will earmark $80 million for the construction and maintenance of state highways and local bridges, while the remaining $20 million will be allocated for the state’s ports, harbors, transit and freight rail, and bicycle and pedestrian trails.
Supporters of the initiative argue that the bonds are needed to secure around $140 million in federal matching funds for transportation work in Maine.
However, naysayers believe it is counterproductive to depend on borrowing to pay for such projects. They proposed that the state explore the alternative of hiking tax rates on gas and diesel to raise funds for federal matching.
Rep. Andrew McLean, writes, “Maine’s highway fund ... relies on fuel taxes, and registration and excise fees for a majority of its revenue. But as vehicles have become more fuel-efficient, revenue into the highway fund has declined, limiting necessary investments in infrastructure projects.”
He also acknowledges that the vote is merely a stopgap measure. “A long-term solution is needed. It will take negotiation and, most important, public pressure,” McLean noted.
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