Editorial: Casco Bay Bridge privatization could lead Maine DOT down unknown road

Source: Portland Press Herald, November 6, 2015

But who runs and keeps up the span has been making headlines lately, after recent reports that the Maine Department of Transportation wants a private company to take over bridge operations. The MDOT hasn’t shared many details about the proposed privatization – and now is the time for it to get down to specifics. … Cutting expenses is the major factor driving the Casco Bay Bridge privatization plan, according to the MDOT. But the agency hasn’t said how much it spends now to operate or maintain the bridge, so we don’t know whether those costs are out of line with what other states shell out. The MDOT also says that operating and maintaining the bridge doesn’t address the agency’s “core mission,” unlike services such as plowing and road work. That’s a surprising shift in attitude, given that a 2007 MDOT report on Maine bridge safety called bridges “critical transportation assets.”

Related:

For First Time, Maine Seeks Bids to Privatize Bridge’s Operations
Source: Jay Field, MPBN News, October 30, 2015

The operation and maintenance of the Casco Bay Bridge between the city and South Portland would be privatized, under bids being solicited by the Maine Department of Transportation. A transportation official says that the move will help save taxpayer dollars and allow the department to focus on its core mission — maintaining state roads. But the union representing bridge workers says the move could threaten public safety. … Feeley, the union’s general counsel, say the MSEA has as many as 10 full-time employees who work on the bridge. The workers, he says, have extensive training and a long track record of operating and maintaining the bridge safely. … This week’s request for bids marks the first time the state has moved to put the operation of a major bridge into private hands. … Private contractors have until Nov. 18 to submit bids to the Maine Department of Transportation.