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December 7, 2018

Feds pump $73M into Maine for infrastructure projects

Collins photo Courtesy / MEDILL DC, FLICKR; King photo Courtesy / U.S. Naval War College, FLICKR
Collins photo Courtesy / MEDILL DC, FLICKR; King photo Courtesy / U.S. Naval War College, FLICKR
U.S. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Angus King, I-Maine, announced this week that Maine is receiving almost $73 million from the federal government for transportation and water infrastructure projects across the state.

Maine will be receiving almost $73 million from the federal government for transportation and water infrastructure projects across the state.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced this week that Maine will receive $26.6 million through the federal BUILD program (formerly known as TIGER) to fund three transportation projects:

Western Gateways Project: The Maine Department of Transportation will receive an almost $11.03 million grant for a $22 million project to repair, resurface, improve drainage, and enhance pedestrian safety to a network of three key roadways in three rural towns: Kingfield, Woodstock and Fryeburg. MDOT will increase the safety of these roads for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians and provide access to rural retail, commerce, employment centers, shipping routes and recreation points critical to the economy. The proposal will meet Americans with Disabilities Act and MDOT's standards for sidewalk, crossing and bike lane safety.

Waterville Main Street Revitalization Project: The city of Waterville will receive an almost $7.4 million grant for a $9.2 million project to make infrastructure improvements in the city's downtown area. The project includes: Changing traffic direction from one-way to two-way on two downtown roads, making improvements to intersections, and updating sidewalks, plantings, and benches. In addition, the funding will allow the city to complete its Riverwalk project.

Traffic Mobility Improvements Project: MDOT will receive an $8.24 million grant for a $16.5 million project to replace and enhance 104 of the 804 traffic signals statewide with updated technology. This includes traffic signal systems; infrared camera vehicle detection at intersections; emergency pre-emption devices to improve fire, safety, and law enforcement navigation through signals; and infrastructure to support autonomous vehicles. MDOT said in a news release that these upgrades "will help maintain safe and efficient traffic flow and proposes to maintain all traffic signal detection, rather than leaving it to municipalities."

This is the 10th funding round of TIGER/BUILD grants. The U.S. Department of Transportation received a total of $11 billion in requests from more than 800 applications this round.

Since the program's inception as TIGER in 2009, Collins has secured more than $160 million for key transportation investments throughout Maine, including bridges, seaports, and rail projects.

$46M for water infrastructure projects

In a separate announcement, Collins and U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development office is investing $46.12 million to upgrade water infrastructure in Southwest Harbor, Bridgton and Rockland.

USDA is providing financing through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program, which can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage, and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents, the senators reported.

Here is what's being funded:

Southwest Harbor Water and Sewer District, $15.68 million:

Southwest Harbor was awarded an $8 million loan and a $7.68 million grant to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility and pump stations. The project will remove processing equipment that has exceeded its useful life, replace and expand existing structures, and improve overall efficiencies of the treatment process. The improvements include building upgrades, pump station upgrades, new blowers, sludge pumps, a dumping station, sludge dewatering, and clarifiers.

The town's wastewater treatment facility provides essential wastewater services to its 539 residential and 128 commercial and governmental customers. Upon completion of the project, the district will be in compliance with its Maine Department of Environmental Protection discharge permit.

Modernization of this circa-1973 wastewater treatment plant will minimize and/or eliminate the potential for discharge of untreated sewage into the Atlantic Ocean, the senators stated, adding that the project is expected to create and save approximately 378 jobs.

"Upgrades to the sewer system play an important role in preserving Southwest Harbor as a working waterfront that relies on tourism, eco-tourism, recreational and commercial boating, and commercial fishing in order to maintain a viable economy," the senators stated. "This means that preserving the water quality of nearby Somes Sound, a coastal waterway in the Gulf of Maine, is of the utmost importance as the Atlantic Ocean is the lifeblood of this rural community."

Town of Bridgton, $20.4 million:

Bridgton was awarded a $10.437 million loan and a $10 million grant to rehabilitate its wastewater treatment system. The proposed project is to construct a new wastewater treatment facility, upgrade some aging sewer collection infrastructure, and to expand the system which will enable additional users in the greater downtown area to have access to public wastewater services.

The expansion portion of the project is expected to add 448 new users, increasing the total number of users on the system from 207 to 655.

The proposed project will focus on the wastewater facility as it is in need of immediate upgrades. Some of the plant's original equipment and processes are upwards of 35 years old, and the overall facility is well beyond the 20-year useful life for which it was originally designed. Additional funding includes $2 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $443,000 from the Town of Bridgton.

City of Rockland, $10 million:

Rockland was awarded an almost $8.03 million loan and a $1.97 million grant to rehabilitate the city's wastewater treatment facility, upgrade some aging sewer collection infrastructure, and correct some combined sewer overflow abatement issues. The proposed project will focus on immediate upgrades of the wastewater system, which has some original equipment and processes that are upwards of 40 years old.

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