AUGUSTA – Speaker Sara Gideon’s legislation to upgrade culverts, making critical habitat and safety improvements, passed as a part of LD 1850 An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue To Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities. This $4,000,000 investment allows for upgrades of municipal culverts at stream crossings in order to enhance and restore rivers, streams and fish and wildlife habitats and to allow communities to better prepare for extreme storms and floods.
Speaker Gideon released the following statement:
“Culverts are perhaps the least visible elements of infrastructure we use every day, but roads collapse when they fail. This competitive grant program prioritizes public safety and wildlife habitat while supporting good-paying Maine jobs. That’s why it earned the support of environmental, construction and outdoor sports advocates. I’m pleased that this common sense measure that protects our clean water, invests in our infrastructure and is good for our economy passed with bipartisan support.”
The vast majority of road stream crossings in Maine were designed to meet standards a half century out of date. In 2014, Maine dedicated funds to offer grants for towns and municipalities to improve culverts. In the first round of applications, Maine funded 72 applications, but 132 remained on the waiting list leading to more than $6.8 million in requests the following year.
The funds will be administered by the Department of Environmental Protection and be used for a competitive program that matches local funding. Eligible project sponsors include local governments, municipal conservation commissions, soil and water conservation districts and private nonprofit organizations.