Testimony in Support of Transportation Bonds

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine
in support of funding transportation infrastructure

June 2, 2015

Senator Hamper, Representative Rotundo and members of the Joint Standing Committee on Approprations and Financial Affairs, my name is Nancy Smith and I am the Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine.

We are a statewide non-partisan, non-profit, membership-based organization working to create lasting prosperity without sacrificing the way of life that defines Maine. We believe a balance of strategic investments in Maine's infrastructure, natural resources and economic capacity is essential to making headway in achieving this objective.

I am speaking today in support of several transportation-related bonds and plan to provide additional testimony to support proposals being presented later this week.

GrowSmart Maine supports investments outlined in three broad transportation bonds LDs 628, 875, and 1415, the latter scheduled for a hearing tomorrow, as well as more targeted proposals in LD 193 for bicycle and pedestrian projects and LD 438 for passenger rail.

Transportation is much more than roads and bridges, yet these are the foundation of our existing  system and the need for repairs is ongoing and signficant. GrowSmart Maine believes that improvements and maintenance to existing roads and bridges are essential to our communities and our economy.  Roads and bridges should be safe and accessible for all appropriate users as stated in Maine's Complete Streets Policy, http://www.maine.gov/mdot/completestreets/ and our investments should reflect this.

In addition, GrowSmart Maine supports multi-modal transportation investments – incorporating marine, bus, rail, bike and trails – which enhance livable communities and encourage growth within existing downtowns. These investments also complement our current automobile-centric system by offering more choices in how we move from place to place; also relieving congestion and reducing wear on roads and bridges.

The Amtrak Downeaster is proving to be a success with ridership exceeding forecasts, so it makes sense to begin to expand this service in Maine, with Yarmouth and then Lewiston/Auburn as logical next steps.

Bicycling and walking are becoming preferred transportation choices for more Mainers each year, both for pleasure and commuting. With 50 approved projects awaiting funding across Maine, it makes good sense to invest the funds needed to make them happen now.

Members of this committee have much work ahead, and I applaud the way you are working to meet various challenges this session. Determining the right level of investment and the appropriate balance of needs to be addressed will be yet another “opportunity” for this committee to make Maine proud. We at GrowSmart Maine will assist in any way that is helpful.