Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Highway Expansion

Maine DOT Bullies Local Planners Into Voting for Highway Expansion

Here's a story about how DOTs can ram through road projects that locals don't even want.

cartoon_road
Maine DOT's jolly logo for a road project nobody wants.

Regional planners in Bangor, Maine, say they were forced to approve a highway expansion project because the state DOT threatened to pull all of the region's transportation funding.

The 395-Route 9 Connector is a $61 million project that will link two other highways and speed freight truck trips to and from Canada. Towns in the footprint of the project, which would demolish eight homes, say it's not needed and the money would be better spent on other things. Maine DOT has not been deterred.

Representatives from the Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System -- the regional planning agency -- told the Bangor Daily News they were “held hostage" by state officials who said they would withhold $57 million in region transportation funds if the highway wasn't approved.

The state had added the highway project to its spending plan last summer. But officials in the Bangor area resisted adding the project to their own transportation plan. Without the regional agency's approval, the state could not get the final go-ahead for the project from the Federal Highway Administration.

Linda Johns, who represents the town of Brewer for the regional agency, said the $61 million would be better spent on more pressing local needs and that traffic has declined since the project was first proposed 16 years ago, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Brewer City Manager Steve Bost described the DOT as “an unyielding bureaucracy that is unwilling to listen and unwilling to move”

“Watching this unfold today, in my humble opinion, is precisely why people have lost faith in government," he said.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

The Paris Plan for Olympic Traffic? Build More Bike Lanes

A push to make Paris fully bikable for the Olympics is already paying dividends long before the opening ceremonies.

July 25, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines Face Our Fears

What happens if Republicans win the trifecta in November? Judging by the GOP-controlled House budget, a lot less money for transit, Smart Cities Dive reports.

July 25, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines Are in a Good Place

How should we react to public indifference about the danger cars pose to society? Perhaps a sitcom has something to teach us.

July 24, 2024

Opinion: Is Kamala Harris ‘The Climate President We’ve Been Waiting For’?

Kamala Harris fought hard for a better transportation plan in the San Diego region despite big political risks. If elected president, will she do the same for the country?

July 24, 2024

America is Setting Micromobility Records — But That Boom Could Go Bust Without Public Funding

Shared bike and scooter trips soared 20 percent in a single year. So why are so many U.S. systems shutting down — and what will it take to keep the revolution rolling?

July 24, 2024
See all posts