Kingfield, MAINE – During a tour of the Maine Department of Transportation’s (MaineDOT) Maine Western Gateways project in Kingfield today, Governor Janet Mills emphasized the importance of infrastructure investments in strengthening Maine’s rural economy.
Governor Mills visits the Maine Western Gateways project in Kingfield
The Maine Western Gateways Project is a MaineDOT initiative to revitalize road corridors that lead to the mountains of western Maine, including several ski trails. The project includes the reconstruction and rehabilitation of portions of Highway 27 in Kingfield, Highway 302 in Fryeburg and Highway 26 in Woodstock. It also includes sidewalk and shoulder improvements designed to improve mobility and safety for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles.
In addition to providing safer transportation options for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, the Maine Western Gateways project will strengthen Maine’s economy. The roads under construction provide access to rural forest lands that are vital to the logging industry, which supports more than 33,000 jobs and generates $8.5 billion in economic activity for Maine. The roads also provide access to western Maine’s recreation areas, including hiking trails, snowmobile trails, lakes, mountains, and streams, as well as winter ski resorts that are used for business conferences, weddings, mountain biking and golf during the summer months. The roads also connect Maine residents to Canada and neighboring New Hampshire, promoting cross-border trade.
“The Western Gateways project is the perfect example of how we can modernize rural infrastructure to ensure our roads are safe for people and strong for our economy,” said Governor Mills. “This work in Kingfield will strengthen the local economy, stimulate the forest products industry, support tourism and improve public safety.
“The roads that are part of MaineDOT’s Western Gateways project are critical connections that support economic opportunity and quality of life in villages across western Maine,” said Bruce Van Note, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Transportation. “This is how infrastructure investments can make real differences in the lives of people who live, work and play in our great state.”
“Maine’s roads and highways help people get to work, support the safe transportation of goods and services, and help bring tourists to our state,” said Heather Johnson, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. “The Maine Western Gateways project will strengthen infrastructure essential to the health and vitality of Maine’s rural economy.
Built in 1950, Highway 27 in Kingfield is traveled by 5,640 cars per day and daily use is expected to reach 6,770 cars by 2038. Twelve percent of daily use is truck traffic.
Route 27 in Kingfield is part of the Maine Scenic Byway and provides access to the Sugarloaf Ski Resort, which welcomes 350,000 skiers each year. Kingfield is also home to a bottling plant of Poland Springs Water, the fourth largest maker in Franklin County.
Route 27 is also an important international trade route, used by truckers for wood products to Fontaine Lumber in Quebec and Stratton Lumber in Stratton. Wood chips are delivered to Stratton Energy, the 48-megawatt biomass power plant in Stratton, while trucks haul “quicklime” from Quebec to paper mills in Rumford, Livermore and Skowhegan.
The Coburn Gore border port is also the most direct route between Montreal and Sherbrooke, Quebec to Maine and the Maritimes, with Route 27 terminating at Boothbay Harbour.
MaineDOT’s work at Kingfield will address the road’s numerous potholes, ruts and low side slopes; repair poor drainage; and updating outdated guardrails to protect drivers from the Carrabassett River. It will also upgrade outdated pedestrian signaling to improve safety. The project is expected to cost $9.2 million and is supported by a federal grant. Sargent Corporation, a Maine contractor, completes the work.
No other governor in Maine history has invested as much state funding in the Maine Department of Transportation as Governor Mills. While MaineDOT operations are largely funded by the highway fund, Governor Mills signed a biennial budget that committed an additional $50 million in the general fund—an unprecedented amount—to the department for capital projects. and stipulated that MaineDOT would receive 20% of the unrestricted surplus at the end of the year. This is in addition to the estimated $2.4 billion in federal funding Maine is set to receive under the bipartisan Transportation Improvement Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Governor Mills Tours Herbert Grand Hotel in Kingfield
After her visit to the Maine Western Gateways Project, Governor Mills visited the Herbert Grand Hotel in Kingfield. The hotel was purchased earlier this year by Sugarloaf to help expand housing options for employees. The Governor toured the hotel and received a briefing from Dana Clukey, Vice President of Lodging and Property Support for Sugarloaf.
The Governor’s visit to Kingfield comes as she travels through Maine. The governor visited Penobscot, Piscataquis, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, Kennebec, York, Somerset, Androscoggin, Lincoln and Knox counties.