2019 News

12.7.2015 b Capture

1.13.2017

12.29.2019 – The writer’s experience is similar to what we’ve been experiencing for 20 years with the I-395/Route 9 Connector project. Our transportation officials should be made to answer for what they’ve said in the past; silence allows them to control the conversation and essentially run the clock out.

MaineDOT’s own documentation removed alternative 2B from further consideration in January 2003 because: “Traffic congestion and conflicting vehicle movements on this section of Route 9 would substantially increase the potential for new safety concerns and hazards. Alternatives that do not provide a limited access connection to Route 9 east of Route 46…would negatively affect people living along Route 9 in the study area [and] would severely impact local communities along Route 9 between proposed alternative connection points and Route 46.”

That same – previously removed – alternative would be resurrected as 2B-2 and satisfied only one of five (20%) of the Purpose and Needs in April 2009. The study went silent for 32 months until we would find that 2B-2 was now the (second) preferred alternative for a $79.25 million project – replacing the 3EIK-2 alternative that was the MaineDOT and the FHWA’s (first) preferred alternative for almost 7 years.

At a March 2016 meeting with local, state and federal officials: “Watching this unfold today, in my humble opinion, is precisely why people have lost faith in government,” Brewer City Manager Steve Bost told the panel. He described Thursday’s process as “an unyielding bureaucracy that is unwilling to listen and unwilling to move” and said state and federal officials have not listened to the communities, including Brewer which has had three unanimous City Council votes opposing the state’s plans.

 

12.29.2019 – Respect for Archie Verow:

 

12.26.2019 – Two possible taxes of our gasoline and one of them will not lead to road and bridge repairs. We have no money, yet the DOT will be wasting $79.25 million on a connector that we do not want!! AND – climate is now clashing with repairs…

 

12.24.2019 – An editorial from the Bangor Daily News; not to sound like a broken record, a good start to this would be to cancel this boondoggle!!

 

12.23.2019 – A thank you to Archie from a February 2015 newsletter. Archie led the charge to try to get 2B-2 legislatively removed through LD-47. Gretchen and I gave written and oral testimony and although our efforts failed, we will fondly remember Archie’s honesty, kindness and determination.

12.23.2019 – Archie Verow was a gentleman’s gentleman and he will surely be missed:

 

12.19.2019 – Statements from Maine Legislature and Governor Janet Mills on Channel 5:

 

12.19.2019 – Archie Verow, a real gentleman and a supporter of our efforts to stop this connector, has died; we will miss him!!

 

12.19.2019 – An update on the blue-ribbon commission by the Portland Press Herald:

 

12.19.2019 – It’s not just the deteriorating roads and the bridges that the MaineDOT admits to – not even talked about anymore are the many functionally obsolete bridges that have not been tracked since the end of 2015 when that number was 470!!

 

12.18.2019 – This video says it all – the difference in roads from New Hampshire to Maine:

12.18.2019 – A Portland Press Herald Editorial – transportation colliding with carbon emissions and the future of our state.

 

12.17.2019 – A Portland Press Herald article on Maine’s transportation carbon footprint.

 

12.15.2019 – “We need to stop wasting money trying to solve transportation problems of the past. Instead we should fix the roads and bridges we already have…We can’t let our roads and bridges crumble into further disrepair. The further behind we fall, the harder it will be to fix. Poor road and bridge conditions are costing drivers money, increasing congestion, and creating safety hazards.” Iowa gets it, why doesn’t Maine??

 

12.12.2019 – A statement from Governor Mills’ ten-year plan:

12.12.2019 – Governor Mills presents her 10-year economic plan which included the blue-ribbon commission on funding infrastructure, that commission is apparently deadlocked. The governor recognizes that the funding is broken, yet the governor has allowed the DOT to go forward with the I-395/Route 9 connector project, that I and many others in Brewer contend is a waste of money at a time when we cannot be wasting money.

 

The I-395/Route 9 Connector is nothing more than a band-aide fix; a short-term project with no long-term benefits. Please view the excerpt below from the Draft EIS page 258 of Appendix C  and note the highlighted “less than YES” answer under the Meets Needs System Linkage column: “In the near-term(Year 2035)”.

This project does not meet long-term needs and thus does not provide long-term benefits; the DOT can’t have it both ways – in MaineDOT’s own words this project is a near-term (short-term) project and thus does not meet Governor Mills’ Infrastructure Policy to “invest in projects that will show a long-term benefit, versus short-term appearances.” 2B-2 is the ultimate photo-op and nothing more; unplanned and unfunded long-term needs have been punted 20 years into an unknown future for your grandchildren to pay for. If Maine can’t afford to fix the roads we already have, how will they afford to rehabilitate this boondoggle in the future?

MaineDOT’s mandate was to provide a limited-access connection from I-395 in Brewer directly to Route 9 EAST of Route 46, intentionally bypassing the intersection of Route 9/46 and the historic Village of East Eddington – that was the system linkage need for the first decade of this study and the MaineDOT is well aware that in the future this connector will have to be rehabilitated to provide the system linkage that was covertly shelved in September 2010 and still ignored today.

12.12.2019 – ASCE facts on Maine’s failing infrastructure:

12.12.2019 – Another report on Maine’s worst road:

 

12.10.2019 – Here’s something to be real proud about, NOT:

 

 

12.09.2019 – Letter to the Editor posted in the Portland Press Herald:

 

 

12.08.2019 – As another example of Benefit to Cost Ratios, here are two projects in Maine that both received INFRA grants. Which project will offer overwhelming benefits and which project is “underwhelming”? The I-395/Route 9 Connector is viable but barely and increased construction costs may have already made this project no longer viable.

 

12.07.2019 – In the midst of a deadlocked blue-ribbon funding commission, the reported 46% increase in construction costs, the 60% cost increase of the Gorham Connector and an annual shortfall of $232 million in the roads and bridge maintenance budget, it appears that the DOT will be going ahead with the replacement of the Wilson Street/I-395 bridge next year – see attachment.

I check the DOT’s I-395/Route 9 connector project site weekly; stored the update page as a bookmark and see what I found today when for some reason I went to the home page of the same site after not finding any new updates or news on the bookmarked update page. I wonder when that change was really posted?? And why didn’t they also update the update page? I feel like I’ve been here before…

Something this important should have been properly announced – I find this whole thing unacceptable; I guess the current project manager didn’t get the memo: “The Maine Department of Transportation…regrets the insufficient outreach by MaineDOT to leaders of the affected communities along the proposed I-395 US Route 9 connecter,” the statement read. “Town officials and the residents of Brewer, Holden, Eddington and Clifton deserve to be fully informed of all decisions and progress. We recognize that it is our obligation to do so, and we will rectify this situation in the future.” 1.06.2012 BDN

They were clearly aware of the rising construction costs and annual shortfall problems when they decided to go ahead with the bridge replacement and the connector, so they obviously are willing to let the rest of our roads and bridges take a backseat to the connector. I’m not sure they can get any more Federal money since they already accepted the $25 million INFRA grant and if they can’t get more money from the Feds, money will have to be pulled from other projects. I will never believe another one of these people when they cry about not being able to afford to fix the roads and bridges we already have…

 

 

12.07.2019 – In anticipation of how the DOT will spin increased costs, here’s two quick lessons on what a benefit to cost ratio (BCR) is and how important it is in determining a project’s viability:

 

Click here to view Gretchen’s Analysis of Benefit to Cost.

12.06.2019 – The increased project costs recently brought out by the DOT brings me back to one of more earlier posts that show how the DOT deliberately manipulated the cost to fit the Benefit to Cost ratio, which gives viability to the project. If you want to see the DOT in action, click the tab on the first page for Gretchen’s FOAA briefing. Why do we distrust the DOT? That should become evident:

 

12.05.2019 – Self-explanatory posting to question tolling versus the connector; if there was not enough traffic for tolling, how can there be enough traffic to justify spending $79.25 million to build the connector??

 

12.04.2019 – A LTE from the Portland Herald Press:

 

12.03.2019 – A report from the Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News on the use of sealant on Maine’s roads. This sounds much like a driveway sealer, also generically known as jennite, which I won’t use because it is so slippery in the winter and in fact that is why they also offer a product with sand embedded in the solution. I applaud the DOT stopping the use of this product, however the bigger problem here is that the DOT is unable to maintain the roads we already have and yet they want to build more of them that they will not be able to maintain in the future.

You cannot skim coat roads every few years instead of proper maintenance. And—you cannot keep promoting questionable new projects at the same time.

A lot of roads, especially in rural parts of the state, need more treatment,” Merrill said. “The bottom line is we just can’t afford to do that.””

“A full rebuild of 1 mile of road can cost millions, and repaving could cost about $50,000, Merrill said, so applying sealant is a lower-cost way to shore up crumbling roads.”

“Some roads may get shimmed, which means we fill in ruts or potholes,” Merrill said. “Some roads may get light surface treatments. It depends on the specifics of each given situation. As our funding issues persist, we aim to stretch every dollar we have as far as it will go to maintain safety and mobility.”

How about cancelling the I-395/Route 9 Connector—there’s a lot of dollars that are stretchable in that $79.25 million project…

 

 

 

12.02.2019 – Can tolls be added to 2B-2 to offset higher construction costs? NO!

 

12.02.2019 – A letter to the editor sent to the Portland Press Herald:

 

12.01.2019 – Two articles that are as appropriate today as when written in 2015; several good points on why we should be focused on repair instead of new construction, as I attempted to raise in my recent BDN LTE:

“And yet we build. We build without seeming to appreciate that every mile of fresh new road will one day become a mile of crumbling old road that needs additional attention. In other words, we need to use all the available road money each year to fix our roads, and then some, to prevent them from falling into a state of disrepair that endangers public safety. And the more roads we build, the more we need to one day fix.

“Taking care of a damaged road early on is much cheaper than trying to deal with it when it’s near-destroyed.”

 

 

12.01.2019 – Working on cover page for first quarter of 2020:

 

11.30.2019 – An email with attachment to the chairs of the JSC on Transportation:

 

 

 

11.29.2019 – Editorial from the Bangor Daily News Editorial Board:

 

11.29.2019 – Letter to the Editor as posted today on BDN website;

 

 

11.29.2019 – Letter to the Editor sent to the Bangor Daily this morning:

 

11.29.2019 – An article from the PPH that shows construction costs are not stagnate. Costs have increased 27% to 58% on the legislatively approved $150 million (estimated in 2017) Gorham connector, bringing the costs to between $191 and $237 million. One would expect similar increases in the I-395/Route 9 connector’s 2017 cost of $79.25 million and I contend these rising costs will be the death knell of the connector project…

 

11.26.2019 – Bangor Daily News article as the blue-ribbon committee deadlocks…

 

11.25.2019 – Report on the blue-ribbon commission from News Center Maine:

 

 

11.24.2019 – An earlier posting – yet – very important to keep in mind. At the same time homes are still being demolished to make room for a $79.25 million connector that many do not want or support, the DOT is operating with an annual shortfall of -$232 million (-57%). How can they (the DOT) justify spending $79.25 million on one single project that does not have local support, and does not meet the original purpose and need of the project when they can’t afford to fund the unmet transportation needs of our state!!!

 

11.20.2019 – Another home is lost:

11.19.2019 – Three excellent news reports from WMTW Channel 8:

 

 

 

11.17.2019 – A 10.28.19 report from WMTW Channel 8 – even with the passage of the $105 million transportation bond – the DOT will still have a shortfall of $230 million for next year alone – BUT, let’s build a $79.25 million connector that many do not want!!

11.15.2019 – We have no money, yet another home is destroyed to make room for a road that many of us see no more need for and do not support…

11.15.2019 – A report on the blue-ribbon commission:

 

11.13.2019 – An older LTE with useful information:

 

11.08.2019 – A report on the blue-ribbon commission from MBTA:

 

11.06.2019 – as predicted:

 

11.05.2019 – It would be an easy bet to say that the Infrastructure Bond will easily pass today – the Portland Press Herald opines why that may not be the best action for Maine:

 

10.25.2019 – The latest MaineDOT shortfall as presented to the blue-ribbon commission on October 24th:

 

10.15.2019 – A News Center Maine report from September – a good reminder of what the blue-ribbon committee has been tasked to do and transportation funding issues in Maine; bonding is not the answer according to Senator Diamond…

 

10.13.2019 – Bonds are not free – think about that before you vote:

 

10.10.2019 – States are spending the federal funds provided to FIX crumbling roads and bridges on new projects; this advocacy group wants that to stop by decreasing federal funding and changing policies:

 

10.07.2019 – An interesting LTE from the Portland Press Herald.

 

10.07.2019 – Follow the blue-ribbon commission on their website:

 

10.02.2019 – At the same time that the DOT is squirreling away $79.25 million for the connector project, Maine’s roads and bridges are some of the worst in the nation:

10.01.2019 – DOT’s briefing document to the first meeting of the blue-ribbon commission. Note that there is absolutely no mention of the I-395/Route 9 Connector OR the $79.25 million that they have been squirreling away instead of addressing Maine’s existing unmet transportation needs:

 

10.01.2019 – A compilation of what happened in the third quarter of 2019:

 

10.01.2019 – This is what happens when you have unmet transportation needs (aka deferred maintenance) as briefed to the blue-ribbon commission by the DOT. Deferred maintenance costs are significantly higher than regular, timely repairs:

10.01.2019 – Unmet transportation needs in the Highway/Bridge Program as briefed to the blue-ribbon commission. -$108 million per year OR -23% SHORTFALL!!

10.01.2019 – Another damning and embarrassing infrastructure rating: 4th WORST!!

 

9.25.2019 – An interesting report from Transportation for America (T4America). Repair work on [existing] roads and bridges generates 16 percent more jobs than construction of new bridges and roads.” T4America

When you hear MaineDOT’s talking point that the I-395/Route 9 connector will bring much needed construction jobs—that is a misleading statement—fixing the roads and bridges we already have will generate 16% more jobs than the connector!! That is where the priority should be, and not a project that many of us see no reason for…

 

9.22.2019 – If you had hoped that this new commission would “somehow” change the MaineDOT’s work habits, here is proof that it doesn’t and it won’t. At a time when the DOT and legislators are crying that the sky is falling, a bid has gone out to demolish two more homes in the footprint of alternative 2B-2. What’s the rush? Wouldn’t that money be better spent on the unmet needs of our state?

9.19.2019 – Two reports on the new commission:


 

9.17.2019 – The new commission to meet today:

 

9.12.2019 – Number 9th worst in the nation – why is the DOT promoting a questionable new $79.25 million connector when our existing roads (and bridges) are in poor shape?

9.12.2019 – A recent Bangor Daily Editorial – more of the same on how to fund our state’s road and bridge maintenance program – whilst – the DOT has squirreled away $79.25 million on the controversial I-395/Route 9 connector that many of us see no need for…

 

9.12.2019 – A report from News Center Maine:

 

 

9.11.2019 – A resolve to study transportation funding in Maine:

Whereas,  funding for transportation infrastructure in the State and the nation is seriously lacking; and

Whereas,  the shortfall in funding related to the State’s state highway and bridge system is at least $160 million per year, without consideration of general obligation bonding; and

 

9.01.2019 – Bangor Daily News – “Even with the bond…the shortfall is at an estimated $140 million for roads and bridges.”

 

9.01.2019 – Recent Press Portland Herald editorial – “…the money, earmarked for transportation projects, is insufficient to keep up with road and bridge repair..” Everyone knows that bonding is not the answer – but – we do it anyway:

 

8.28.2019 – How many potholes can be filled with this $5 million? How does this shortfall affect other unmet transportation needs of our state?

 

8.27.2019 – Portland Press Herald front page top of the fold – no surprises here:

8.21.2019 – Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald report on the for sure passage of the transportation bond in next Monday’s session in Augusta:

 


 

 

8.15.2019 – WABI reports on the ongoing bond issue:

 

8.15.2019 – The BDN reports on the current bond issue:

 

8.14.2019 – Electronic version of Portland Herald article dated 8.14.2019:

8.14.2019 posting – Bonding is not the answer and Mr. VanNote knows it!

 

 

7.30.2019 posting – Maybe if the MaineDOT stopped pursuing such highly controversial and extremely expensive projects, as the I-395/Rt. 9 Connector, our state would not have to bond every year just to repair the roads and bridges that we already have.

 

7.30.2019 posting – An article from CNBC. Shouldn’t we all be disgusted at yet another terrible rating? Mainers should be ashamed to be rated as the fourth worst state in the nation for the condition of their infrastructure.

 

7.09.2019 – Bangor Daily News Editorial with facts on the state of our infrastructure:

 

7.07.2019 – All we wanted was a $25,000 independent review (not a new study) of the connector project and that was not to happen as the Governor would not support it – yet, here’s a $500,000 study that the Governor supports…

 

7.03.2019 – A compilation of what happened in the second quarter of 2019:

 

6.23.2019 posting – “…meaning the lack of a new transportation bond would not cause any immediate problems. Legislators, however, say they hope a bond can be approved and sent to voters in November to avoid any interruption to the DOT funding stream.” This one single bond will cost Mainers $29 million in interest payments over the ten year maturity of the bond; we should not depend on bonding as an integral part of the “funding stream”.

 

6.21.2019 posting – The Maine Legislature adjourned without getting the now annual $100 million transportation bond on the 2019 ballot; the MaineDOT needs this bond to help them maintain our existing roads and bridges so that they can horde $79.25 million of critical state and federal transportation dollars in support of the connector. 2B-2 seems to be more important to the DOT than our state’s current unmet transportation needs…

 

6.12.2019 posting – Oped about transportation bonding from the Portland Press Herald:

 

6.08.2019 – Interesting facts gleaned from Mr. Van Note’s testimony in March 2019:

 

6.08.2019 – A repost that demonstrates how much the bridge rating system has changed:

 

6.08.2019 posting – not many people realize that the FHWA has drastically changed the definition of what is now structurally deficient within the bridge rating system – if you don’t pay attention, one would think things are getting better when that is not the case:

 

6.08.2019 posting:

 

6.07.2019 – Senator Angus King signs on a bill to address Maine’s 325 deficient bridges:

 

6.06.2019 – Another Transportation Bond to be voted on this November. Bonds are not free – last year’s bond will cost $29 million in interest payments over the 10 year maturity.

 

5.31.2019 – A contest for the worst road in Maine with interesting facts about the state of our roads and the cost of those roads to the citizens of Maine:

 

5.31.2019 – What you need to know about the Wilson Street Bridge over I-395:

 

5.27.2019 – The May 2019 TRIP report provides the most current statistics of Maine’s roads and bridges. We should not be proud that we are in the top ten of the worst roads and bridges in the nation.

 

5.22.2019 – New article from “Transportation for America”;  a direct – strong – argument against the MaineDOT pushing for the controversial $79.25 million (2B-2) I-395/Route 9 connector project when our state cannot afford to even maintain existing infrastructure:

 

5.20.2019 – Bangor Daily News Editorial from May 14th:

 

5.15.2019 – even at this late date, the MaineDOT is using an official Maine map that shows the I-395 Protected Wetlands from the original 395 project that 2B-2 transits thru. The MaineDOT told us in 2012 that they could not validate these protected wetlands existed, even though they are mapped as such, thus they didn’t exist. Now 7 years later, the map is clear – it is their map – on their website!! Do these wetlands exist or not? If this map is invalid – where was the mitigation for the original I-395 project? Hmmm…

 

5.11.2019 – Channel 2 report:

 

5.10.2019 posting – WABI report on cancelled projects:

 

5.10.2019 posting – The official MaineDOT document as referenced in BDN and Portland Herald articles. An interesting statement: “Most projects cut from the Construction Advertisement Schedule will be performed in future years, but that is not guaranteed, especially in the case of highway reconstruction and new alignment projects. Further, MaineDOT must reserve the right to reject bids on the projects being advertised if bids come in too high. All projects will be reviewed as we assemble our next three-year Work Plan to be published in early 2020 in the context of available revenue, system needs, and bidding climate.” 

Since the Wilson Street/Interstate 395  bridge replacement project is the first phase of the connector project; the future of the whole connector could be decided in January 2020…

 

Click here to view document online.

5.09.2019 posting:

 

5.09.2019 posting:

 

5.01.2019 posting: We don’t have enough money? Really? How ’bout that $79.25 million?

 

4.14.2019 posting:

 

4.14.2019 posting – A compilation of activities for the first quarter of 2019:

 

4.09.2019 posting:

 

4.02.2019 posting:

 

3.25.2019 posting:

 

3.25.2019 posting:

 

3.20.2019 posting:

3.18.2019 posting:

 

3.18.2019 posting:

 

3.15.2019 posting:

 

3.15.2019 posting:

 

The following 3 documents were sent to the transition team for Governor-elect Mills:

 

 

 

3.06.2019 posting – Finally, a much-needed project update from the DOT; remember when these used to be biweekly?

 

3.06.2019 posting – MaineDOT proves once again that we don’t have the money to foolishly spend on such a controversial and deficient alternative as 2B-2!!

 

2.26.2019 posting – Ground Zero in Eddington. This house no longer exists!!

2.25.2019 posting – Bangor Daily News:

 

2.20.2018 posting – A resolve from Senator Rosen:

 

2.14.2019 posting – email sent to Governor Mills on 1.30.2019:

 

1.31.2019 – an unsolicited response from the MaineDOT from the email originally sent to the Governor on January 18th ; as usual just talking points with no real answers:

 

1.26.2019 posting – email sent to Governor Mills on 1.18.2019:

 

1.09.2019 – Senator Rosen submitted the following legislation:

1.01.2019 – A compilation of news from the 4th quarter of 2018:

 

1.01.2019 – Portland Press Herald report on new traffic lights:

 

1.01.2019 – Who negotiated what the state would pay for this connector?

1.01.2019 – An important posting from 12.17.2018:

 

1.01.2019 – An important posting from 12.15.2018:

 

1.01.2019 – An important posting from 12.14.2018. Whether it’s state money, federal money or bond money – it is your money!!

 

1.01.2019 – An important posting from 12.10.2018 . Gretchen’s words from 2012 are still true today!!