PORTLAND, ME – U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and U.S. Senator Susan Collins have formally announced $61 million in federal funds to the state of Maine.
“This federal investment in Maine’s infrastructure will repair and replace several key bridges to advance safety, economic growth, and improve the quality of life for residents,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
“Repairing or replacing our aging bridges is an urgent need, and increasing funding to improve our infrastructure is one of my highest priorities. Since joining the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee in 2009, I have worked to secure $305 million in competitive surface transportation grants for Maine,” said Senator Collins. “I am delighted to join Secretary Chao and Commissioner Van Note to celebrate the federal and state partnership that makes this exciting announcement possible. All of these local projects promise to produce benefits that will be felt by Maine families and businesses throughout our state.”
The grants announced by the Secretary include $25 million in Competitive Highway Bridge Program (CHBP) grant funding for Maine to fund bridge improvements on the I-295 corridor and in rural Franklin County. Maine was also recently awarded $36 million for the Madawaska International bridge under the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program.
Under the CHBP, Maine will receive $18.9 million to replace four rural bridges on the I-295 corridor in Cumberland County that were built in the 1950s and are now in poor condition. I-295 is a vital corridor for Maine’s economy, connecting to markets and ports in New England and serving the tourism industry.
The state will also receive $6.1 million to replace three rural bridges in Franklin County using advanced techniques. The project supports the local forest products industry and improves access to tourism destinations.
The CHBP funds must be used for highway bridge replacement or rehabilitation projects on public roads that leverage the efficiencies associated with "bundling" at least two highway bridge projects into a single contract. Bundling offers cost and time savings, which are beneficial to reducing the transportation project backlog. It allows the opportunity to address many projects facing similar needs using innovative replacement and rehabilitation strategies in a cost-effective manner.
Congress funded the CHBP grant program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, from the U.S. Treasury's General Fund. State Departments of Transportation in 25 eligible states were invited to apply under the program.
Maine DOT has also been awarded $36 million in grant funding to replace the Madawaska International Bridge, a U.S.-Canada border crossing bridge over the Saint John River.
INFRA advances a grant program established in the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act and utilizes updated criteria for evaluating projects to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals. The program increases the impact of projects by leveraging federal grant funding and incentivizing project sponsors to pursue innovative strategies, including public-private partnerships.