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Maine voters approve $100 million transportation bond package

XGR Maine Budgets
Pat Wellenbach
AP file
A car navigates around construction on a roadway that connects Topsham to Brunswick, Maine on Thursday, June 16, 2011.

Maine voters approved a $100 million bond measure on Tuesday to pay for roads, bridges and others transportation projects throughout the state. Federal or local sources are expected to more than double that sum with matching dollars.

Question 2 on the ballot authorizes Maine state government to borrow $85 million for roads, highways and bridges. Another $15 million will be earmarked for airports, passenger and freight rail projects, ferries and harbors. The taxpayer-backed bonds will be matched with an additional $253 million from the federal government or local partners, according to state officials.

Paul Merrill, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said the funding will help address critical needs throughout Maine that are included in the DOT’s current three-year work plan.

“We never take anything for granted,” Merrill said late Tuesday night. “We are certainly appreciative of all of the support that Maine voters show for transportation. You know, the bigger story would be if we did not have this money because that would mean serious changes to our work plan.”

In a release, the Maine Department of Transportation noted that the combined $353 million in bonds and matching funds accounts for roughly 40 percent of what the agency spends on transportation improvement annually. Commissioner Bruce Van Note called the funding “critical to our mission.”

Maine voters have considered a transportation bond measure in all but two elections since 2010, with each measure passing by wide margins. It's been more than 50 years since voters in the state rejected a borrowing package for transportation projects.