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Bond vote secures funding for Portland megaberth

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Bond vote secures funding for Portland megaberth

PORTLAND — Maine voters approved at least three of the four statewide bond questions Tuesday, including one that would provide funding for a a deep-water cruise ship berth on the city's waterfront.

The fourth question, which includes funding for economic development projects, was too close to call Wednesday morning.

The four bonds would trigger borrowing of up to $108 million.

Question 3 will fund nearly $48 million in transportation projects for highways, railroads and marine facilities, including $6.5 million for the city's long-awaited megaberth. The berth has already been approved for construction, but the city had not been able to secure funding for it despite several attempts during the past few years through state and federal channels.

The bond was approved by about 58 percent of voters Tuesday.

The megaberth will be added to the existing Ocean Gateway terminal and will give the city the ability to host multiple, larger ships. Currently, if a large cruise ship comes to port it berths at the Maine State Pier. In the event two ships are in port, one has to anchor in the harbor.

The existing berth at Ocean Gateway, which was built in 2008 to primarily host now-defunct ferry service to Nova Scotia, can accommodate smaller ships.

Question 2, approved by nearly 59 percent of voters, includes $26.5 million in funding for the University of Maine System and investment in an offshore wind energy demonstration site.

Question 4 was too close to call Wednesday morning. If passed it will fund economic and community development projects, including redevelopment at the Brunswick Naval Air Station, funding for small businesses and grants for food processing for the fishing industry, as well as support for the agricultural, dairy and lumbering industries. The bond totals $23.75 million.

Question 5 received about 55 percent voter approval. It will pay for water quality, drinking water and waste-water treatment projects, to the tune of $10.25 million.

Question 1 on the statewide ballot, a citizen's initiative to repeal the tax reform law enacted last year by the Legislature, was approved with 61 percent of the vote.

The results, tallied by the Bangor Daily News, were unofficial Wednesday morning because all precincts had not yet reported. Voter turnout for Tuesday's elections was about 22 percent statewide.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net