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June 28, 2013

Senators Collins, King Invite Transportation Secretary to Maine to Tour State’s Infrastructure Projects

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, and U.S. Senator Angus King today sent a letter to Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the Department of Transportation (USDOT), inviting him to visit transportation infrastructure projects that the Maine Department of Transportation has identified as candidates for funding through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) V discretionary grant program. 

With Senators Collins’ and King’s support, yesterday the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Mr. Foxx as the Transportation Secretary.  He replaces Secretary Ray LaHood.  Earlier this month, Senators Collins and King sent a joint letter to the USDOT expressing their strong support for the Maine projects, which include the Port of Eastport Breakwater, Sarah Mildred Long Bridge, Howland-Penobscot River Bridge and the Downeaster Amtrak line.  The projects, described in the Senators’ letter, are ideal candidates for funding as they meet each of the goals of the TIGER program by supporting regional and state transportation and economic goals.

The letter from Senators Collins and King comes at a time when lawmakers throughout New England are also pressing Department of Transportation officials to address major infrastructure deficiencies within and between their states.


The full text of the Senators’ letter is as follows:


June 28, 2013

The Honorable Anthony Foxx


U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE

Washington, D.C.  20590


Dear Secretary Foxx,

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Secretary of the Department of Transportation. As you assume your new role, we would like to invite you to visit Maine to tour some of the state’s transportation projects.  Maine’s infrastructure faces challenges, similar to many other states, in keeping its roads and bridges in a state of good repair. Maine’s roads and bridges are among the worst in the nation’s transportation system. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 32 percent of Maine’s bridges are deficient, which is higher than the national average of 25 percent.  Further, the American Society of Civil Engineers has rated Maine’s bridges a “C-”, and Maine’s roads a “D”. 

It is our hope that you will visit the sites of the projects outlined below.  As you will see, these projects are critical to the local, state, and regional transportation network.  It is essential that we work together to improve Maine’s transportation infrastructure, because so much of my state’s economy relies on these roads and bridges.  Key projects include:

Port of Eastport Breakwater, Eastport, ME – Eastport is an important commercial port of entry and serves as the safe harbor for vessels of the U.S. Coast Guard in Eastport. With 100 feet of water on approach channels, 64 feet of water at the pier at low tide and more than sufficient space to turn the largest ships afloat, Eastport is uniquely positioned and naturally endowed to accommodate any size vessel existing or planned.  The current breakwater, however, is failing, and has led to significant damage to this important port of entry.  The Port plans to build a new barrier that will use composite materials to strengthen its protection. Assistance from the Department of Transportation is necessary to make vital improvements to the Port that will help Maine businesses be more competitive. 

Howland-Penobscot River Bridge – This project proposes to replace the Howland-Penobscot River Bridge, which spans the Penobscot River between Howland and Enfield (State Route 155). The current bridge is in disrepair with structural deficiencies, inadequate width, and significant scour issues. The bridge is classified as Structurally Deficient by the Federal Highway Administration.

Sarah Mildred Long Bridge – This project proposes the replacement of the rail portion of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge connecting Kittery, ME and Portsmouth, NH. The bridge’s rail component supports an important national security need, enabling the safe and efficient transportation of spent nuclear fuel from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The Federal Highway Administration has classified the bridge as structurally deficient, and has noted its truss spans are fracture critical, meaning that the failure of steel tension members could result in collapse.

Downeaster – This project proposes track improvements, including a “wye track” in Portland, and to construct additional tracks west from Royal Junction. The wye track will eliminate the need for Downeaster trains to backup and reverse directions when travelling between Portland and Brunswick, Maine. The Royal Junction addition will allow the Downeaster to run five daily round-trips, instead of the three daily round-trips that are currently conducted.

We are committed to ensuring that Maine remains a safe, accessible, and productive state and believe appropriate funding is critical to achieving these goals. We hope that you will be able to visit Maine with us. Again, congratulations on your appointment, and we look forward to working with you.


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