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Maine voters support $100 million transportation bond

This act would require the state to issue $100 million in bonds. (WGME)

BANGOR (BDN) -- Maine voters strongly supported an uncontroversial $100 million bond for roads, bridges and transportation facilities on Tuesday night.

The proposal faced no formal opposition and was backed by the administration of Gov. Paul LePage — which factored it into a $2.2 billion work plan for 2016, 2017 and 2018 that was published in January — and construction and transportation advocates.

Maine Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt told a legislative committee in April that $52 million of the package will go toward bridge rehabilitation or replacement, $24 million to improve highway improvement, $20 million to multimodal facilities, including ports, harbors, rail, aviation and other facilities and $4 million to a cost-sharing road program with cities and towns.

The bond will be matched by $137 million in federal funds, and it’s estimated that it will cost Maine taxpayers $33 million in interest over 10 years. Voters passed an $85 million bond in 2015.

Tuesday’s strong vote continues a string of success for transportation bonds, which have now passed 16 of 19 times since 1990, according to research by the University of Maine at Farmington political scientist James Melcher. A broad-based bond hasn’t lost during that time period.

The bond is much-needed in the Lincoln Lakes region, said Andrew DiCenso, a 22-year-old Lincoln resident who voted in favor of it.

“The reconstruction of some of the roads around here is really necessary,” DiCenso said. “The maintenance around here is not very good.”

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