The first regular session of the legislature is over but legislators left Augusta without acting on a whole host of issues. Maine Public Senior Political Correspondent Mal Leary spoke with Nora Flaherty on All Things Considered about what did and did not get done.

As the head of Maine’s Department of Transportation, Commissioner Bruce Van Note oversees a vast transportation network, including the turnpike, bridges, airports and other infrastructure. In recent news, the DOT has pulled back on a number of projects due to construction costs. We’ll hear about how he will address these budgetary issues and what his plans are for the future.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

For the first time in 50 years, there is regular bus service between Farmington and Lewiston.

Rural Transportation

Feb 5, 2019

What’s being done in Maine to help those in rural areas get access to transportation? Maine’s rural population is spread out, and public transportation does not always reach or connect in ways that help people get to jobs or medical care. We’ll learn about statewide efforts to find solutions.

Maine is getting almost $27 million in federal dollars for three transportations projects.

There's been a steady flow of traffic into Maine ahead of the July 4th Holiday, but nothing that's caused traffic jams or overwhelming problems on Maine's turnpike, according to Maine Turnpike Authorities.

Executive Director Peter Mills says traffic was "huge" last Friday and Saturday, but it didn't beat last year's measurement for the same day of the week. He says it's likely people traveling to the state started early.

 Portland Metro Breez bus service was launched on June 16, 2016.
Patty Wight/Maine Public

The metro system provided 1.8 million rides in 2016, up 15% from the previous year. That surge reflects the first full year since the city school system ended bus service for high school students and have them public transit passes instead. That’s according to Gregory Jordan, general manager of the Greater Portland Transit District.

Jordan says there were several other initiatives that are driving up ridership. They include increased Sunday service, new routes and shelters, and the launch of a texting and online app that tells you when your bus will arrive.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt was in the hot seat in Augusta today, defending the decision to contract with a private company to operate the Casco Bay Bridge between Portland and South Portland.

The National Transportation Safety Board has posted to the web underwater video of the wreck of El Faro.  

The Casco Bay Bridge between Portland and South Portland in 2011 in a photo taken by Mike Cempa.
Mike Cempa /

Democrats in the Maine legislature want the state Department of Transportation to explain why it has chosen to privatize maintenance and operation of the Casco Bay Bridge.

The Casco Bay Bridge between Portland and South Portland in 2011 in a photo taken by Mike Cempa.
Mike Cempa /

The Maine Department of Transporation has selected a Florida-based company that specializes in moveable bridge operations to handle routine maintenance on the Casco Bay Bridge linking Portland and South Portland.

WASHINGTON — For the first time in nearly ten years, Congress is poised to pass a multiyear transportation funding plan that will provide additional funding to address state road and bridge needs.

Just before the holiday break, Congress passed a very short extension of legislation that allows federal transportation money to flow to the states for various road and bridge projects.  They were supposed to pass a long term bill before the holiday break.

PORTLAND, Maine _ The Portland Jetport is seeing an uptick in travelers this week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Assistant airport director Zach Sundquisd says typically the Jetport sees about 2,000 travelers a day this time of year.

"The past three days, we've been closer to 25...2,600, so it's definitely been an increase," says Sundquisd. "This time of year we get a lot of passengers that haven't flown in a year, so we recommend 90 minutes prior just to give you that extra time to get through TSA."

CRANBERRY ISLES, Maine _ Residents of the Cranberry Isles face some uncertainty over their future ferry service, as the area's longtime mailboat operator looks to get out of the business. But at a special meeting this week, the town took steps to start replacing the service.