Maine voters overwhelmingly approved a $105 million transportation bond proposal Tuesday.

Jason DeCrow / AP Photo

One of the most difficult issues facing lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in the months ahead is how to adequately fund the state’s roads and bridges. The cost of repairs and reconstruction continues to increase, and fuel taxes have not kept pace as Mainers move to more fuel-efficient vehicles.

As part of his continuing series of interviews with Maine news makers, Mal Leary spoke with Gov. Mills about her views on transportation policy.

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

If traffic is the major complaint for drivers in and around Maine’s largest city, then parking is a close second.

Gov. Janet Mills called the Legislature back into session to consider four bond proposals totaling $163 million in borrowing for the November ballot. The bonds would fund transportation projects ($105 million), economic development aimed at high-speed internet expansion ($23 million for pollution clean up; $15 million for energy efficiency loans) and $20 million for conservation projects under the Land for Maine’s future program. The session went into a deadlock, then three bonds were defeated. We'll learn more about the future of funding for the state.

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Talks are underway in Augusta about a possible special session of the legislature in the coming weeks. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and members of her cabinet are hoping to get multiple bond proposals to the voters in November, and they are negotiating with legislative leaders over how to make that happen.

Julie Pike / Maine Public

Casco Bay Lines has received a $3.4 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The funding will be used to finish a third phase of terminal renovations in Portland.

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.