AUGUSTA — A bill to make more money available to municipalities for pedestrian-safety projects appeared dead after failing on an 18-17 party-line vote in the Senate Thursday.

Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, sponsored the bill and said he is “increasingly disappointed” that lawmakers turned down the measure.

The Maine Department of Transportation had said the new funding Libby sought was not necessary. It said it already helps with many pedestrian-safety projects across Maine, approving funding for half of 28 proposed projects in 2016.

However, Libby said that “each year we lose more pedestrians” in traffic accidents and if the Legislature does not act, “the trend will only get worse.”

Twenty-one pedestrians were killed in 2017, the highest toll in records dating to 1993, according to Department of Transportation figures. The state also saw a spike in highway deaths last year, with the 171 fatalities the most since there were 183 in 2007.

The Maine Department of Public Safety said distractions for drivers and pedestrians likely played a role in the growing numbers.


Libby’s proposal would have offered matching funds to help approved projects and, in some cases, would have covered the costs entirely with state money.

Libby pushed the measure following the death of Lewiston Middle School student Jayden Cho-Sargent in November 2016. The youth was hit by a pickup truck while walking to school.

“No town or city should experience more devastating losses because they cannot afford to make necessary safety improvements,” Libby said.

The House has yet to vote on the proposal, but without Senate support it has almost no chance of passage.

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