Unofficial copy (for hardcopy contact Chris, chris(at)defendingwater(dot)net
in support of LD 1639
An Act To Stimulate the Maine Economy and Promote the Development of Maine’s Priority Transportation Infrastructure Needs
Rep Bruce MacDonald
January 21, 2010
Good afternoon Senator Damon, Representative Mazurek and esteemed members of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation. I am Representative Bruce MacDonald, representing the island and coastal towns of Arrowsic, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Georgetown, Southport and Westport Island. I am here today to present and ask for your support of LD 1636, An Act to Stimulate the Maine Economy and Promote the Development of Maine’s Priority Transportation Infrastructure Needs.
This bill before you today is the result of some good work over several months by a group of stakeholders, all of whom contributed to the language in the bill you have in front of you. The stakeholder group consists of Maria Fuentes, Director of the Maine Better Transportation Association; John Melrose, Director of Maine Tomorrow; Tim Walton of Cianbro Corporation; John O’Dea of Associated General Contractors; and Bruce Van Note of the Maine Department of Transportation.
The purpose of this bill is to clear the way for the Department of Transportation to receive or solicit proposals and enter into agreements with private entities or consortia for the building, operation, ownership, leasing or financing of certain transportation projects as set forth in Public Law 2007, chapter 470. It is also intended to provide the Private Development Community with clear guidelines by which they might be encouraged to invest in Maine’s priority infrastructure development needs.
All of you sitting here on this committee know far better than I that there is currently a backlog of billions of dollars in transportation infrastructure needs in the State. The deteriorating condition of our roads and bridges constitutes an ongoing emergency. Meanwhile, the infusion of public funds at adequate levels to meet this emergency is unlikely. Private funding for selected priority projects could alleviate this problem. Such investments would stimulate job growth as well as improve our infrastructure at a time when the need is great and unemployment is high.
To stimulate these private dollars, this legislation is needed to clarify explicitly the terms and conditions under which private funds would be invited into public development projects. The size of investment contemplated will require months of pre-planning on the part of both the State and possible private partners. We know that willing potential private investors exist, and we know that the State is in principle willing to become involved in such partnerships. This bill would clarify important elements in such arrangements and make private investment more likely. Examples of clarification needed include contract lengths, operational responsibilities, revenue sharing and public safety issues. To the extent such issues can be made clear ahead of time, then to that extent private investors will be more willing to come forward.
I will be followed by experts in this field who can testify to a far greater extent than I on the needs and on the effectiveness of this proposed legislation. I hope you will ask them the many questions I am sure you have. Thank you for your time and consideration.
(FYI: Tim Walton was Executive Director of the Associated Builders and Contractors, and in 2008 was “promoted” to vice-chairman of Region 7. Info here. He is the Director of External Affairs for Cianbro, and serves as their lobbyist. Cianbro, through Tim, spent $12K in Augusta this year and $19.5K last year lobbying.)