The Legislature and the governor hate the idea of spending more money, especially obtained by increasing taxes, fees or borrowing. I have to ask, however, have they driven on our roads lately?

In the mid-1990s, about 2 percent of Maine’s roads eligible for federal-aid highway funds (the higher classified roads) were measured as having poor pavement condition. The latest data show more than 20 percent of those roads is now in poor condition. This rating is based on actual measurements taken by Maine Department of Transportation.

The number of bridges in Maine now rated structurally deficient exceeds 15 percent of the approximately 2,400 bridges in Maine eligible for federal-aid bridge funds. In order to replace all of our bridges every 80 years (they were originally designed for 50 years), we should replace an average of 30 per year.

Each year that we do fewer, more bridges are added to the backlog, ultimately resulting in weight restrictions and closures. This has major economic impacts. I doubt that we have replaced 30 in one year in the past decade.

Driving on our roads gives the sense that our highway system is becoming similar to that of a Third World country. Potholes abound, rough pavement jars our vehicles’ suspensions, and the poor pavement condition adversely affects the safety and speed of the traveling public.

Managers at DOT know how to properly manage pavement and bridges, but only with adequate funding. Thin pavement overlays they are forced to place on mile after mile of pavement in poor condition is a waste of money.

They know it, and it is time that the governor and the legislators learn it. Our road and bridge conditions need to be a condition to support economic growth that our elected officials say they want.

Paul L. Lariviere,


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