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Maine cannot maintain infrastructure without federal funds

Maine "is losing ground in the struggle to maintain and improve its roads and aging bridges," as its planned funding of $3.2 billion for the next 10 years is "about $2 billion short" of what it needs for "critical highway and bridge improvements," the Central Maine Morning Sentinel (2/3, Cooper) reported.

According to "Connecting Maine: Planning our Transportation Future" published by the state's transportation department, "a big part of the problem is the federal government." The U.S. Highway Fund gets the bulk of its revenue from federal gas tax, which hasn't been raised in over 14 years and the result is underfunded federal obligations. In MDOT's fiscal year 2008-2009 biennial capital work plan, the federal funding accounts for just 62.5 percent of the total capital expenditure, compared to 71.2 percent in fiscal year 1998-99.

To cope with the shortfall, options for the state "range from cost savings efforts on the part of the department, increased motor fuel taxes and long-term borrowing to new alternative financing sources, increased use of tolling, mileage-based fees, increase in use of public-private partnerships and broadening the base from which transportation revenues are derived."

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