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Governor Mills Announces $5.4 Million in Grant Awards to 37 Maine Communities to Protect Vulnerable Infrastructure From Flooding and Extreme Storms

Governor has proposed adding $50 million to the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund to support rebuilding and resiliency projects after devastating winter storms

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 vulnerable infrastructure and improve resiliency to the effects of climate change, such as intense storms, inland and coastal flooding, and rising sea levels.

Projects awarded from the Fund, which is administered by the Maine Department of Transportation and utilizes state funds proposed by Governor Mills and approved by the Legislature in 2023, include $4 million for 20 culvert projects in 18 communities. These grants, each of which are $200,000, will match local funding for culvert improvements to protect public infrastructure and safety by replacing failing culverts that are at risk of complete washout or collapse.

Communities receiving 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 was sought from the Fund in this round, a high demand given the importance of the installing of larger, wider culverts at stream crossings on municipal roads to reduce flooding and benefit wildlife.

In addition to culvert projects, $1.4 million was awarded to 19 communities in Maine for further investments to protect vulnerable public infrastructure from climate effects and improve climate resiliency. Overall, MaineDOT received 29 applications for more than $2 million in proposed projects from this grant round. Example of communities receiving project funds in this round include:

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

A full list of awardees is available here (PDF).

In her State of the State Address, the Governor proposed to invest a further $50 million in the Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund to help Maine communities rebuild in the wake of the recent devastating storms. The funding would come from Maine’s record-high Budget Stabilization Fund, known as the “Rainy Day Fund.”

On Feb. 9, Governor Mills announced 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 1:00 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 Governor Janet Mills. “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. “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.”

“The intense storms in December and January have been a wake-up call about how vulnerable Maine communities are to the effects of climate change, such as intense storms, flooding, and rising sea levels,” said Hannah Pingree, Director of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future and co-chair of the Maine Climate Council. “The state’s climate plan, Maine Won’t Wait, recommended creating this fund to help communities invest in protecting their infrastructure. These grants announced today, and others in the future in response to the recent storms, make good on that recommendation to enhance local resilience to climate effects.”

“What used to be considered a 100-year storm is happening multiple times a year now, and we’ve all seen how increased flooding is threatening infrastructure around the state,” said Kate Dempsey, State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. “TNC and our partners have long supported efforts to help communities in Maine make critical culvert upgrades. This $4 million award will support 20 new projects to improve road-stream crossings, making Maine communities safer and more resilient in the face of climate change.”

“As the nature and intensity of Maine’s storms continue to change, so does the way in which municipalities build, plan, and protect investments in public infrastructure,” said Cathy Conlow, Executive Director of the Maine Municipal Association. “In communities across the state, expenditures on roads, bridges, culverts, and wastewater facilities, consume a large part of limited town and city budgets. This $5.4 million from the Mills Administration for culvert and adaptation projects will help shift the burden of those improvements off the shoulders of property taxpayers. This is a partnership approach that municipal leaders appreciate.”

The Maine Infrastructure Adaptation Fund, created by the Mills Administration and the Legislature in 2021, provides grants for significant infrastructure adaptation, repair and improvements that support public safety, protection of essential community assets, and long-term infrastructure resiliency.

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 2022, 13 communities in Maine received nearly $20 million in grants through the Fund for municipal investments to protect vital infrastructure from effects of climate change, including projects to address flooding along ocean and riverfronts, protect stormwater and wastewater systems, and install culverts to reduce flooding.

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.

Under Governor Mills, Maine’s Rainy Day Fund has reached a record high. The fund currently Stands at $968.3 million–the maximum amount allowed under State law. 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.

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