Annual Report Ranks Maine Bridges Among Most 'Structurally Deficient'
According to an annual report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, Maine ranks seventh in the country for its percentage of bridges rated "structurally deficient."
Maria Fuentes of the Maine Better Transportation Association says Maine has made some progress in recent years — it used to rank sixth.
"The Department of Transportation has reduced the number of bridges, but we're still way behind the eight ball. And, it's something that really needs a big infusion of investment," she says.
And Maine's gas tax no longer provides enough funding for repairs. Fuentes says a legislative commission that was created last year came up with some ideas.
"More money should come from the general fund, in part because the transportation sector generates so much income, especially in sales tax revenue for the general fund, and there should be an increase in gasoline and diesel taxes. But, not surprisingly, the gas and diesel tax piece was not unanimous," she says.
Fuentes says the state has a backlog of bridge repairs estimated at $176 million. She says a bond issue on the July ballot would fill only part of the need.
"There's $90 million in there for roads and bridges and another $15 million for transit, for rail, for non-highway modes," she says.
The Legislature has been grappling with how to close a persistent gap between highway funding and construction needs. No solution was reached during this year's shortened legislative session.