PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A report released by the nonprofit transportation research organization TRIP finds poor road conditions in Maine not only cost residents and businesses money, but lives as well.
"The overall finding in the report is the state has high levels of deterioration in its roads, highways and major bridges, " stated Frank Moretti, director of research and policy for TRIP.
"Fourteen percent of the state's bridges are structurally deficient and another twenty percent of those are functionally obsolete," he added.
He says the report found a third of fatal traffic crashes were due to the level of safety features on the roadway.
"Traffic fatalities in rural Maine are happening at a rate seven times higher than on all other roads in the state," said Moretti. "Every death in traffic out on our highways is preventable, and really it is a combination of certainly driver behavior, but also it is very much the roadway safety features that are available on that roadway."
Moretti presented his group's findings at a press conference attended by several Maine business leaders who support approval of a $51.5 million transportation bond in this November's elections.
Moretti says TRIP, which is supported by construction, manufacturing and transportation sectors does not take positions on policies, but does research to help provide insight.
"It is not a matter of importance, it is essential that we not take our eye of the value, the importance of roads, bridges and transportation. It is in so many ways the foundation of our economic system," said Dana Connors, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.
He says the bulk of the bond, if approved, would be used to make improvements to Maine's roads and bridges, but about $10 million would be earmarked for upgrades to the state's ports, airports, bus services and rail facilities.
Connors says passing the bond issue will also help the state's economy.
"It also creates a stimulus, I know that is a sensitive word, but in transportation it's a real fact in terms of generating jobs, creating revenue and filling a need," he explained.