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 the 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 children to pay for. If Maine can’t afford to fix the roads we already have, how will they afford to rehabilitate this boondoggle twenty years from now?
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.
The following documents are a good review of how we got here and how the 2B-2 alternative goes against all previous DOT mandates. These documents were sent to Janet Mills before and after she was elected; they were ignored and sent on to the DOT for dismissal…
8.14.2020 – MaineDOT press release:
8.14.2020 – The governor wants 5% of the Highway Fund to help make up for a $524 million shortfall in this fiscal year’s budget (until June 2021). I sent a comment to the governor that this $104 million project should be scrapped to help make up for this shortfall.
8.14.2020 – The following slides contain key connector information and are no longer available on the DOT’s Virtual Meeting website:
8.06.2020 – August 7th is the final day to make comments to the Route 9 Connector project. The following are my comments to the project:
8.06.2020 – The Portland Press Herald is more specific: “Figueroa’s memo also details a proposed 5 percent reduction to the state’s highway fund, used for road and bridge repair and construction and other transportation services, like state-operated ferries. Highway fund revenues, largely supported by the tax motorists pay on gasoline, are off by $31 million, but the fund was already facing a more than $230 million shortfall. Voters approved in July another $100 million bond, or borrowing package, for the fund.”
8.06.2020 – Not only does the DOT need to make up for the projected loss of $125 million in gas tax this fiscal year, the DOT has to make up for next year’s loss of the transportation bond that they are already spending this year – now the governor wants a 5% reduction in transportation programs. I say once again – cancel this $100+ million boondoggle!!
7.29.2020: The state needs $1.4 billion to make up for lost revenues over the next 3 years, but let’s build a $100+ million connector that we don’t need and Brewer doesn’t support!!
7.17.2020: MaineDOT announces a virtual meeting on the connector:
7.04.2020 – A compilation of what happened in the second quarter of 2020:
7.03.2020 – how to destroy a neighborhood:
6.24.2020 – News Center Maine (Channel 2/6) reports on the upcoming transportation bond to be voted on during the July 14th primary. Unlike other bonds – this money will be used immediately to make up for the losses due to covid-19 – while ignoring the projects in 2021 that the bond was intended to fund. The MaineDOT pushed ahead with this $100 million connector that many do not want – yet – cries for more money to mismanage…
6.19.2020 – A Bangor Daily article on another DOT boondoggle – the Caribou Bypass. I predict the same safety issues will plague this connector – Route 9 eastbound will be controlled by a stop sign at a “T” intersection where the new pavement of 2B-2 meets Main Road (Route 9) in Eddington. Vehicles going northbound at highway speeds for 6.2 miles will (at that intersection) be expected to not only get down to a safer speed (currently 40 mph in that area) and also try not to t-bone those east-bounders at the stop sign.
6.17.2020 – Today was bid opening day for the Wilson Street/I-395 Bridge – the first phase of this connector – 5 bids were received – the low bid of $10,744,238 was sent in by Wyman Simpson Construction of Richmond, ME.
6.08.2020 – The first phase of this project – the $13.45 million replacement of the Wilson Street/I-395 bridge – is now out for bid – bids are to be opened on 6-17-2020. If you thought we had no money, you thought wrong!!
5.30.2020 – News Center Report on Channel 2 – State of Maine finance officials say the 2020 budget ending in June is just fine. Even though forecasters have warned of up to a $1.2 billion shortfall by the end of June 2021 – the state however does admit to a $525 million shortfall in next year’s budget. $1.2 billion or $0.525 billion – what’s the difference? We still don’t have the money for this project.
5.25.2020 – An article from the Bangor Daily News magnifies the fiscal facts of today – those facts seem to be ignored by the MaineDOT with the push forward of this project:
The MaineDOT estimates that gas tax revenue will come in at least $125 million under budget over the next 18 months. That drop represents about 24 percent of total gas tax revenue the department expected to collect from this April to next September, according to department spokesman Paul Merrill.
Over the next six months, though, the anticipated losses are much steeper. The DOT expects to take in about $74 million less than initially projected — a 40 percent drop-off for that period.
In January, before the pandemic, the department had already planned to complete its two-year construction plan over three years due to an unmet funding need of $232 million. [142 projects were cancelled in January.] The coronavirus has made things worse.
“Fewer people driving means fewer people gassing up, and that means far less expected gas tax revenue,” Merrill said. “We were already in rough shape, and the hit we’re taking because of COVID-19 just further exacerbates an already gargantuan problem.”
5.20.2020 – An update of an earlier post to include the Governor’s recent exclamation that it will cost Maine $3 billion to make up for the loss of revenue and the cost of fighting the pandemic in a letter to the Maine delegation:
5.19.2020 – Forget about the $1 billion and $1.2 billion projected revenue shortfalls by the end of June 2021 – Governor Mills is projecting that revenue shortfall to be $3 billion:
5.19.2020 – Nothing to see here – let’s build the connector!!
5.13.2020 – The latest report from TRIP: Maine is in the top ten worst roads and bridges nationwide. 21% percent of Maine’s rural roads are rated in poor condition – the tenth highest rate in the nation – and 21% are in mediocre condition. 13% of Maine’s rural bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, the seventh highest rate in the nation.
5.12.2020 – A report from Channel 5 – MaineDOT warning the losses in revenues to be felt by local communities.
5.11.2020 – MaineDOT warning municipalities: “The revenue loss means there will also be a drop in payments to local municipalities from the Local Road Assistance Program, which is used to pay for capital improvements to local roads. Each year, 9 percent of the state Highway Fund goes to the Local Road Assistance Program, which is distributed to each municipality based on how many miles of roads it maintains.”
Essentially, since the DOT refuses to cancel the I-395 connector, every municipality in Maine and every single citizen in those municipalities is paying for this $100 million boondoggle.
5.08.2020 – MCEP verifies the fiscal perils we face – roughly $1.2 billion loss in Maine revenues by the end of June of 2021 – why isn’t the DOT listening?
5.08.2020 – Channel 7 report from MaineDOT spokesman: “Merrill said Thursday there are concerns from the dot about future construction projects with a projected loss in gas tax revenue due to COVID-19.” They don’t seem that worried if they have already decided to go ahead with the $100 million I-395 connector project.
5.07.2020 – Another estimate of revenue losses for the state – this one is a $1.2 billion loss – that’s $200 million more than the $1.0 billion estimate from Moody Analytics – OR – the cost of two I-395 connectors!! The DOT may want to make believe there is not a fiscal catastrophe coming, but everyone else seems to think so…
5.06.2020 – self explanatory :
5.05.2020 – Nothing stops the MaineDOT from moving forward with this boondoggle:
5.01.2020 – email sent out today:
4.30.2020 – From Channel 2 news on April 30th: How the covid virus is affecting the MaineDOT. Commissioner Van Note discusses the fuel tax: “That money has stopped flowing.” The DOT is projecting a 40% $74 million loss in Highway Fund revenues from April to the end of September. He also stated that most work will go on as planned and that they thought Federal monies would be available to make up for the covid losses, but that hasn’t materialized. Money that the state has already received cannot be used to make up for revenue losses. Van Note also stated (disturbingly) that they could take some money out of the transportation bond that will be voted on in June, even though that money was for projects planned next year.
4.30.2020 – A YouTube video from September 2019. Commissioner Van Note makes the following statement: “We are cutting it too damn close – it’s just too close.” My question is if we are indeed “cutting it too damn close” – why are we wasting money on the connector when there are obviously other unmet needs that worry the commissioner. Yes – Maine does deserve better!!
4.30.2020 – amended 2020 welcome page to reflect current events:
4.28.2020 – New tagline for website:
2020 started with an annual $232 million shortfall, cancelling 142 projects. The covid-19 pandemic will decrease Highway Fund revenues by an anticipated $125 million over the next 18 months. Maine may lose as much as $1 billion (25%) in revenues by mid-2021, yet the $13.45 million Wilson St./I-395 bridge replacement, the first phase of the controversial $100 million connector project, is going to bid on May 27th.
4.28.2020 – email sent out on 4.27.2020:
4.27.2020 – No one knows what our state and local communities will look like at the end of this mess; anyone that thinks our fiscal woes will immediately be cured have not been paying attention. Businesses and jobs may not come back as hoped. According to the Bangor Daily, the City of Brewer is conservatively budgeting for state revenue sharing to be 35 percent lower than the city had projected before the pandemic –AND – Maine could lose $200 million by the end of June and up to $1 billion by mid-2021, according to dire projections, made by Moody Analytics, showing that nearly a quarter of state revenue could be in danger due to the coronavirus.
4.25.2020 – Travel and toll revenue are down on the Turnpike – nothing to see here:
4.21.2020 – An email sent out on the 20th:
4.18.2020 – WMTW Channel 8 reports a $125 million shortfall in gas revenues over the next 18 months:
4.18.2020 – Maine could lose a billion dollars because of the pandemic:
4.18.2020 – The latest information on Maine’s roads and bridges from TRIP:
4.16.2020 – Not an annual $232 million shortfall in the DOT road and bridge budget – not a loss of $74 million in gas tax revenues over the next 6 months – not even covid-19 stops this connector:
4.15.2020 – Another DOT shortfall – a $74 million loss in gas revenues – yet the connector still moves forward:
4.13.2020 – BDN article – travel is down but not the amount of work and bidding:
4.07.2020 – Travel is down by more than 50% and so is the state gas tax – will this stop the connector? I would bet not as nothing has stopped it yet – not the annual $232 million shortfall – not the 142 projects that had to be cancelled – nothing!!
4.07.2020 – The Governor’s edict that road construction is essential work; it appears that with the exception of a two week stoppage by a major construction company, the construction schedule goes forward unimpeded.
“But as the Department of Transportation’s Paul Merrill notes, there is another issue on the horizon that could affect the sector’s fate: with traffic on Maine roads down 50 percent or more since February, gas taxes are down as well, and that could put at least a temporary squeeze on the state’s road-building budget.”
4.04.2020 – What will be the new normal when this is over? Will the tourists come back? Will our businesses and restaurants come back? Will everyone get their jobs back? Will everyone be made whole? How many Mainers will lose their homes? What will the state’s finances look like before the pandemic is over? Will the DOT still squander $100 million on a project that we don’t want? Only the virus knows…
4.01.2020 – A compilation of what happened in the first quarter of 2020:
4.01.2020 – An email that I sent out today:
3.25.2020 – Articles from the PPH and the BDN indicate that the MTA is well aware that the corona virus is affecting loss of tolling with a 20% loss in traffic that may affect future projects. Since the DOT depends on gas tax revenue for a good chunk of their project funding – when will the DOT start falling back on projects because of the loss of revenues due to the lack of driving during this pandemic – OR – will the DOT go ahead and bid the first phase of the connector project – the $13.45 million Wilson Street/I-395 Bridge – in May – no matter the shape of Maine’s coffers by then?
3.19.2020 – Once again – even after it has been determined that annual bonding is not an efficient method of maintaining our roads and bridges – another bond will be taken to the Maine citizenry in June:
3.11.2020 – Portland Press Herald reports on the Governor’s proposed bonding package:
3.11.2020 – Here comes another bond for November:
3.08.2020 – Once again – no mention of the I-395 connector in this article and that is why the $13.5 million Wilson Street Bridge will go to bid in May as the most expensive project in Penobscot County. Unlike the many other projects within this article, the Wilson Street Bridge only requires replacement in support of the I-395 connector and is often referred to as the first phase of the connector project.
3.07.2020 – Schedule from the October 2017 INFRA Grant application:
3.06.2020 – Editorial from the Bangor Daily News:
Maine needs more money for roads?
How ’bout cancelling this $100 million boondoggle!!
“Forego projects that you would like to do in favor of those that you have to do.” Mark – I couldn’t have said it better!!
3.04.2020 – From the BACTS meeting of March 2016 until today…
3.04.2020 – What is the real cost of the connector? $100 million – $120 million?
3.03.2020 – Brewer has a new representative:
3.03.2020 – The blue ribbon commission punts to the next legislative session:
3.01.2020 – First phase of the connector is to be bid in May:
3.01.2020 – Portland Press Herald reports high construction costs causing higher estimates in all construction projects:
2.21.2020 – An excerpt from the Governor’s State of the State speech:
2.20.2020 – A must read – you can’t just blindly follow your government officials as they don’t always have your best interest in mind; the CMP corridor is much like the I-395 connector – both projects are being promoted with questionable justification, from questionable out-of-state contractors – with the same steamroller mentality, lack of communication and accountability to the chagrin of impacted communities.
2.19.2020 – I’ve raised the issue of this map several times and never got a satisfactory answer; this was first discovered in 2012 and now 8 years later, the DOT is still using the same map:
2.18.2020 – Vote for Kevin in the upcoming special election to fill Archie’s seat.
2.17.2020 – If this doesn’t scare you – then nothing will. Talk about “Big Brother”!! The Governor and the MaineDOT are watching your every move…
2.14.2020 – Bangor Daily article on special election to fill Archie Verow’s seat in the state legislature. Please consider voting for Kevin – he is against squandering $100 million on this connector project.
2.13.2020 – Bangor Daily News report in newsprint:
2.11.2020 – Bangor Daily News report on the deadlocked blue-ribbon commission. This makes me ugly – they sit on tens of millions for this connector project at the same time they can’t afford to fix the roads and bridges we already have. The DOT needs to be investigated for mismanaging the state’s infrastructure program – not given more money that they will again misuse…
2.07.2020 – Channel 5 report on the Republican plan to fund road and bridge re[airs; Democratic Representative McClean ask a very pertinent question – one that I have an easy answer for…
2.07.2020 – Bangor Daily looks at the Republican infrastructure plan:
2.06.2020 – Portland Press Herald article about a Republican plan to fund road and bridge maintenance. I need to add that the Senator mentioned in this article was a co-sponsor of LD 783 last year for an independent evaluation of this connector project – he also curiously gave the initial motion to kill the bill after talking negatively about it – very strange action…
2.06.2020 – MaineDOT Press Releases – the Commissioner praises the Governor and the Governor gives the DOT another $10 million to mismanage. They could save $100 million by cancelling the connector project!!
1.27.2020 – Another report on the TCI from the Bangor Daily News:
1.18.2020 – Maine Examiner report on Governor Mills’ stand on the Transportation Climate Initiative:
1.19.2020 – Bangor Daily News report on the Transportation Climate Initiative:
1.26.2020 – Bangor Daily News Opinion Piece on the Transortation Climate Initiative:
Whether or not you believe in climate change, I don’t see how the Transportation Climate Initiative and the connector can coexist.
I haven’t studied the issue and I am neither for TCI nor against TCI. However – I believe in climate change and freely acknowledge the damage that we have done to our environment – it’s not a hoax.
If the TCI and the funding of our state’s infrastructure repairs are both to be based on gasoline taxes, and there is no consensus from the blue-ribbon commission or the legislature on how to fund our urgent road and bridge repairs, and there is no way a gas tax will pass the state legislature in an election year – one would wonder how the state can do all of this and go ahead with questionable and controversial high cost projects such as the $100 million connector…
If Governor Mills signs on to the TCI, this controversial project needs to be suspended as the environmental benefits of TCI outweighs any environmental benefit that the DOT may claim the connector project offers. I say again – you can’t have both – it is fiscally unobtainable.
The environment should always be a top priority, especially when a project that seriously impacts the environment does not even meet the original purpose and need of said project.
The Brewer City Council identified the city’s environmental concerns in three unanimous resolutions of non-support since 2012: “whereas, the proposed 2B-2 route impacts a significant amount of wetlands and could cause environmental damage…”
Just another reason to cancel this boondoggle…
1.23.2020 – Channel 7 report on the special election for Archie Verow’s seat; please vote for Kevin O’Connell – a friend, a previous Mayor, a previous Councilor, a veteran and one of the unanimous signatures on 3 resolutions of nonsupport of this project. He’ll be a strong voice for the City of Brewer.
1.23.2020 – Channel 7 report on the $13.5 Wilson Street bridge replacement, a perfectly good bridge that is only being replaced because of 2B-2.
How’s this for optics? The DOT admits to a $232 million annual shortfall, has had to cancel 142 projects in the latest 3 year work plan and will either cancel all together or just skim coat our failing roads. Yet, the DOT has no problem spending $13.5 million on replacing a normally good bridge to support the $100 million connector that the City of Brewer does not support.
How many roads and bridges have been sacrificed so the DOT can continue to bank our scarce transportation dollars into the controversial I-395/Route 9 connector project?
$237 million for the Gorham Bypass, $40.7 million for the Saco exit on I-95 and $100 million for the I-395 connector, a $232 million annual shortfall in the roads and bridges maintenance budget and 142 projects cancelled – the state needs to tackle the real problem with the MaineDOT – it’s not the lack of funding, it’s what they are spending the funds on; not one more foot of new pavement should be laid until our existing roads and bridges are brought back up to an acceptable level. The DOT’s top priority must be the unmet transportation needs of the state of Maine.
1.21.2020 – Bangor Daily News Editorial on the DOT’s annual $232 million shortfall and the failure of the blue-ribbon commission and the Legislature to fix the current issues with our infrastructure. What’s missing in everyone of these articles is the fact that no one mentions that as dire as things are, the DOT is still forwarding the $100 million connector project instead of taking that money and spending it on the 142 road and bridge projects that have been sidelined by this shortfall. When will Mainer’s rise up and demand the DOT live within its budget? Unmet transportation needs should be priority one, not new projects that lack public support and do not satisfy the original purpose and needs?
1.20.2020 – After several articles that “the sky was falling” the Maine Turnpike Authority just dropped the news that they plan to spend another $40.7 million. It doesn’t matter whether it is the DOT or the Turnpike Authority – it’s money that has to be approved by the Legislature at a time when Maine cannot pay to maintain the roads and bridges we already have. This is absurd. Isn’t anyone listening?
1.20.2020 – A Bangor Daily News report from August 2020 reference the Wiscasset Bypass – once again, we fail to understand what history has taught us and once again – we will make mistakes by ignoring it…
“We did not want a bypass because we didn’t see the need for it, or (understand) why we’d spend $100 million on that when there are a lot of other roads that need that work.” August 2011 Frank Risell
This is what the City of Brewer has been saying since January 2012. In 2020, the cost is identical to the Wiscasset project, we still do not see the need for the I-395/Route 9 connector and there are lots of other roads that need that money!
What has changed DOT?
1.20.2020 – A press release from August 2011 makes even more sense today!!
Today’s fiscal environment—with an annual $232 million shortfall, the subsequent cancellation of 142 projects and the “downgrading” of paving and repair techniques for our deteriorating roads—is considerably worse than the fiscal environment of 2011 when DOT Commissioner Bernhardt canceled the $100 million Wiscasset Bypass project in August 2011:
“At a time when we have difficulty finding the financial resources to maintain our existing infrastructure, I cannot justify the expense of building a bypass around Wiscasset.”
“Adding more miles to our transportation system in this current fiscal environment doesn’t make financial sense,” said Bernhardt, “Our responsibility going forward is to manage our existing infrastructure within our existing budget.”
With current funding levels stable at best, MaineDOT concluded that the expenditure of funds on new infrastructure was not justifiable.
“The long-term financial forecast for transportation funding makes it difficult to continue to spend scarce resources on such a large, financially unviable project,” said Bernhardt, “We are struggling to maintain the roads and bridges we currently have in safe and serviceable condition.”
Those words remain appropriate and should be said once again; they sum up the “dour” condition of our roads and bridges and what the DOT should be doing to minimize the damage from our current fiscal environment.
One is left to wonder why the DOT wants to spend $100 million on one single project – a controversial project that fails to satisfy the original study purpose and needs and many of us do not support nor see the need for – when our infrastructure is in such dire shape. The blue-ribbon commission has failed to reach consensus and 2020 is an election year where any increase in the gas tax would be the kiss of death in politician’s eyes; things will not get better, there’s only one direction this is going and squandering $100 million dollars on a single project while 142 other projects go unmet only magnifies the issue.
Maine’s unmet transportation needs should be and must be the DOT’s top priority, anything less is unacceptable. It’s hard to comprehend why the DOT continues to bank money on the $100 million connector project when the DOT will soon be forced to cold-patch potholes on our roadways forced off the paving schedule – and – post or close bridges that could have been rebuilt at a cheaper cost if done in a timely manner…
1.19.2020 – new sidebar comment:
1.17.2020 – A report from News Center Maine on YouTube:
1.17.2020 – Bangor Daily News print edition:
1.16.2020 – Bangor Daily reports on the state of our bridges and the concerns of the DOT’s Chief Engineer that high dollar projects are crowding out smaller projects…
She [DOT Chief Engineer Taylor] worries such efforts won’t last long, noting big projects…can crowd smaller projects out. We have to ask, ‘Are we going to lose ground on other projects?’ she said.
How about those 142 projects that have been put on hold while the DOT continues to bank millions of our limited transportation dollars on the I-395/Route 9 Connector and is ready this spring to bid the $13.5 million Wilson St./I-395 replacement bridge that is the first phase of the connector project construction?
If she is so concerned about a $85 million bridge using $35 million in federal money, why isn’t she as worried about a $100 million connector using $25 million in federal INFRA grant money? How many of the 142 cancelled projects were “crowded out” by the controversial I-395/Route 9 connector project? What’s wrong with you Maine, we’re out of money!!
1.15.2020 – January 14, 2020 – a lot happened on that date:
1.15.2020 – Official MaineDOT Press Release:
1.15.2020 – A new name for the connector:
In today’s BDN (Maine to fund fewer road projects), the DOT Commissioner “struck a dour tone” upon the release of the report, which consists of “spreading what used to be two years of capital projects over three years” and saying that his department is “competently managing a slow decline of our transportation system until bipartisan funding solutions materialize”.
Yet the I 395 Connector somehow survives any serious scrutiny once again. I am now dubbing it ‘Teflon Road’…
1.15.2020 – The PPH updates their article again with newsworthy information:
1.15.2020 – Front page news, but no regional information.
1.15.2020 – Maine Public article on the new DOT work plan:
1.14.2020 – Hope you weren’t expecting a real plan from the Blue-ribbon Commission, read for yourself:
1.14.2020 – FOX/ABC report on MaineDOT’s new Work Plan:
1.14.2020 – Channel 5 reports on MaineDOT’s new Work Plan:
1.14.2020 – Updated Portland Press Herald article:
1.14.2020 – Article from the Portland Press Herald:
1.14.2020 – Updated article from the Bangor Daily:
1.14.2020 – Highlights from the new MaineDOT 2020-2021-2022 Work Plan:
1.14.2020 – Another report from the Bangor Daily News:
1.14.2020 – Here we go…
1.07.2020 – An editorial from the PPH on tolling. Will they toll the connector? They said NO in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement – but that doesn’t mean they won’t!!
1.03.2020 – Channel 8 transcript on the worst traffic spots in Maine. As one that has lived in the Brewer area since 1992, nothing – absolutely nothing – has been done to improve the Intersection of Hammond and I-395 in Bangor -AND – is there anyone in this area that hasn’t been almost killed trying to merge onto I-95 from I-395, especially when going southbound? YET, the DOT spends
their our money on a project that fails to meet the original purpose and needs. When the DOT speaks, I no longer listen – they do not speak the truth…
1.01.2020 – Here’s what the DOT is planning for us this year – even though we have no money:
1.01.2020 – A compilation of what happened in the forth quarter of 2020: