At Maine DOT, better roads and better budget go hand in hand

At Maine DOT, better roads and better budget go hand in hand
New national report examines state spending on road expansion versus repair

CONTACT: Nancy E. Smith, nsmith@growsmartmaine.org, 207.699.4430 x1

Craig Chester, cchester@smartgrowthamerica.org, 202-215-8858

Augusta, ME—Maybe you’ve noticed road repair crews out on the highway recently, or a smoother ride after potholes get filled. These improvements are the result of the Maine department of transportation (DOT)’s investment priorities—and they’re gaining national attention.

Repair Priorities 2014, a new report from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, looks at road conditions in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, and how state DOTs are investing in road repair versus expansion. Investing in repair, the report explains, can improve road conditions for drivers and the financial outlook of DOTs at the same time.

Between 2009 and 2011, Maine spent an average of $256 million per year on both road repair and expansion. Of that, $221 million (86%) went to road repair each year and $35 million (14%) went to expansion. This is significantly better than the national average of 45% on repair and 55% on expansion.

“It is no secret that times are tough, but the safest and most economically viable approach we can take to Maine’s infrastructure is to protect the investments we’ve made with needed safety and structural upgrades,” said Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. “Allowing roads and bridges to slip into disrepair ultimately costs state and local governments billions more than the cost of regular, timely repair. Deferring maintenance of bridges and highways can cost three times as much as preventative repairs. The backlog also increases safety risks, hinders economic prosperity and significantly burdens taxpayers. Maine is leading the nation by investing in preservation and repair rather than creating new roads.”

Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt stated, “For the Maine Department of Transportation, our approach is to prioritize.  Maintaining a solid infrastructure is one our top goals and speaks to the MaineDOT mission, which is: 'To responsibly provide our customers the safest and most reliable transportation system possible, given available resources.''

“Maine’s investment decisions are a model for other states to follow,” said Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America. “State DOTs can make roads better for drivers and improve their own long-term finances by investing in the repair of existing roads instead of building new ones. This is a matter of spending tax dollars to preserve public assets and give motorists a better ride.”

In addition to state-by-state information the new report also recommends ways for state officials to increase the portion of funds going toward repair including raising the public profile of repair projects, using asset management practices, focusing repair investments on the most heavily used roads, setting aggressive targets for pavement conditions, an using cost-benefit analysis to prioritize road investments.

Download the full report at http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/repair-priorities.

GrowSmart Maine is a statewide, non-partisan, non-profit that works at the intersection of Maine's economy, environment and communities. We know that when these three areas are working well and working together, we succeed as a state. GrowSmart Maine actively brings together Maine citizens, government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to work for a more sustainable prosperity that supports both an improving standard of living and the protection of this state’s unique character, our quality of place.

Taxpayers for Common Sense is a non-partisan budget watchdog serving as an independent voice for American taxpayers. Our mission is to achieve a government that spends taxpayer dollars responsibly and operates within its means. We work with individuals, policymakers, and the media to increase transparency, expose and eliminate wasteful government spending, and hold decision makers accountable. Read more at www.taxpayer.net.   

Smart Growth America is the only national organization dedicated to researching, advocating for and leading coalitions to bring better development to more communities nationwide. From providing more sidewalks to ensuring more homes are built near public transportation or that productive farms remain a part of our communities, smart growth helps make sure people across the nation can live in great neighborhoods. For additional information visit www.smartgrowthamerica.org.  

 

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