Testimony in support of LD 247, “An Act to Create Corridor Districts for the Purpose of Funding Transportation and Transit Services”

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
in support of LD 247,
“An Act to Create Corridor Districts for the Purpose of Funding
Transportation and Transit Services”
March 10, 2015

Senator Collins, Representative McLean and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine. We are a statewide non-profit, membership-based organization working to improve Maine's economy, protect its distinctive character and communities, and enhance our state's quality places. I regret that I cannot attend this public hearing today and appreciate the opportunity to submit this written testimony.

As communities adapt to change and growth, transportation policy and projects represent significant investments and hold the potential to strengthen communities or to overextend limited resources. LD 247 provides a framework to update Maine law to improve inter-local cooperation and increase local funding opportunities for transportation. While Maine law already permits inter-local cooperation and tax increment financing, current law does not fully reflect current thinking about transportation funding along corridors. We should pursue commonsense changes to make it easier for local communities to collaborate to support transportation investment. This sort of collaboration is fundamental to Maine’s future as costs are shared in planning, building, managing and maintaining transportation infrastructure.

This bill improves local participation in transportation decision-making and funding. Local communities should participate more in funding decisions for large-scale transportation projects, rather than relying solely on federal and state funding. For rural communities with smaller population and tax bases, this can be a challenge. Allowing communities to join together along transportation corridors to jointly administer and fund transportation infrastructure is a creative innovation that makes sense.

LD 247 supports transit-oriented development and multi-modal transportation planning. Multi-modal transportation – incorporating bus, rail, bike and trails – helps promote more livable communities and reduces urban sprawl. Multimodal transportation is a key component of smart growth. Given budgetary constraints, we need to look for new and creative ways to fund transportation infrastructure. This bill provides mechanisms for communities that choose to, to do just that.