Rockland, Vinalhaven, Washington among 37 Maine communities receiving grants for infrastructure

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 8:15pm

    Governor Janet Mills today announced $5.4 million in grant awards to 37 communities through the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund to support projects that protect infrastructure and improve resiliency against intense storms, inland and coastal flooding, and rising sea levels. 

    Among those municipalities are Rockland, which will receive $125,000 for construction of stormwater separation project on Crescent Street, and Vinalhaven, which will receive $125,000 for scoping to build a retaining wall to protect a public parking lot vulnerable to storm surge.

    Additionally, Washington, will receive $200,000 in a matching grant to improve culverts at risk of complete washout or collapse.

    Washington is among 18 communities receiving funds specifically for culvert projects. The Fund, which is administered by the Maine Department of Transportation, includes $4 million for 20 culvert projects. Communities receiving those grants include Bar Harbor, Brownfield, Cumberland, Ebeemee Township, Fairfield, Frenchville (2), Lincolnville, Ludlow, Milton Township, Naples, Norway, Presque Isle (2), Prospect, Randolph, Standish, Washington, Waterford, and Winslow.

    Overall, 75 applications totaling more than $13 million were submitted in this funding round, highlighting the importance of the installing of larger, wider culverts at stream crossings on municipal roads to reduce flooding and benefit wildlife, according to a Feb. 29 news release from the office of Gov. Janet Mills.

    In addition to culvert projects, $1.4 million was awarded to 19 communities in Maine to protect public infrastructure.

    Overall, MaineDOT received 29 applications for more than $2 million in proposed projects from this grant round. In addition to the Rockland and Vinalhaven grants,  communities receiving project funds include:

    $37,000 to Hallowell for scoping to adapt stormwater infrastructure to handle the increased rainfall from intense storms;
    $36,000 to Mariaville for a road stabilization project to support access to its volunteer fire department;
    $50,000 to Penobscot to design a new salt storage facility to replace one now vulnerable to flooding; and
    $125,000 to Stonington for engineering and construction to elevate a 400-foot section of Oceanville Road that is vulnerable to flooding.

    Gov. Mills is proposing to invest another $50 million in the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund to help Maine communities rebuild in the wake of the recent storms. The funding would come from Maine’s Budget Stabilization Fund, known as the Rainy Day Fund.

    On Feb. 9, Governor Mills said she is expediting her $50 million investment in the Fund by introducing it as standalone legislation. That bill, LD 2225, is now before the Legislature as an emergency measure. A public hearing on the measure has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 6 at 1 p.m.

    “The recent storms, along with the damage they caused, just further underscore the importance of our work to help communities improve their infrastructure to better withstand the impacts of climate change,” said Gov. Mills, in her news release. “This investment from the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund will help 37 cities and towns across Maine enhance their resiliency to severe weather and rising sea levels. And the strong demand for the program is also testament to the need for greater funding. Communities across Maine want to take action, and, with the additional funding I have proposed, we can help them do that to better protect Maine people, strengthen our infrastructure, and protect our economy in the process.”

    “These investments in our infrastructure represent a win-win: these programs will help improve fish passage, which helps to support Maine’s fishing industries and our economy, while also helping to make our roads more resilient,” said Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation, in the release. “The fact that MaineDOT received requests for about three times the amount of grant money we were able to distribute in this round of funding demonstrates a clear need for continued investments in this area.”

    For the additional $50 million proposed by Governor Mills, eligible projects may include working waterfront infrastructure, culverts, storm water systems, water system upgrades, and other interventions that support reducing or eliminating climate impacts, especially coastal and inland flooding. The funds are intended for public infrastructure projects with exemptions available for some types of private infrastructure upgrades with significant community benefits, such as working waterfronts.

    In addition to the $4 million for culvert improvements announced today, MaineDOT, the Maine Department of Marine Resources, and the Passamaquoddy Tribe have received $35 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support 27 further culvert upgrades in 15 communities around Maine.

    Maine’s Rainy Day Fund currently stands at $968.3 million, the maximum amount allowed under State law, according to the Governor’s office. Under State law, the Budget Stabilization Fund is allowed to reach a maximum of 18 percent of the Fiscal Year’s General Fund actual revenue from the most recently closed Fiscal Year. The maximum amount is recalculated annually.