p-citystimulus Portland has $96M stimulus wish list

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PORTLAND — The City Council was briefed Monday on local “shovel-ready” projects that could be funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Of the $96 million worth of projects city staff compiled, $23 million in upgrades at the Portland International Jetport, $9.5 million for a cruise ship “mega-berth” and $8.2 million for fire station renovation and new construction are among the big-ticket items.
City Manager Joe Gray said the list includes only projects that are for the most part ready to go.
“The thinking is, those projects that could be within 120 days of construction,”  Gray said. He said other projects, like sidewalk construction, were included because they can be planned quickly.
Gray said he believes an approved economic stimulus package could be before President Barack Obama by mid-February. The House approved an $819 billion package Jan. 28. The Senate is currently debating the bill and is expected to pass some form of it early next week.
The stimulus package includes funding for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. The city has included road, waterfront, airport, pedestrian and sewer improvement projects, along with projects aimed at reducing the city’s energy consumption and improving information technology.
Gray said the city has been in steady contact with various state departments that are expected to have control over how most of Maine’s stimulus share is spent.
“They’ve been cooperative, but there is still a lot of fuzziness,” Gray said. He said the city’s list will also be submitted to Maine’s congressional delegation because there is a chance some funding could be earmarked for the city.
Among the other projects on the city’s wish list:
• $12 million for elimination of combined sewer overflows.
• $8 million for upgrades to reduce energy consumption in city buildings.
• $1 million for a trail connecting Veteran’s Bridge and West Commercial Street.
• $5 million to reconstruct the International Marine Terminal for cargo service.
• $2.4 million for improvements at Dougherty Field, including a skate park.
• $4 million for library renovations and technology upgrades.
• $5 million for trail work in Bayside, including a pedestrian bridge over Franklin Arterial.
The Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System has also created a list of Portland projects. That list includes $7.9 million for 18 new Metro buses, $5.5 million for a new Casco Bay Lines ferry and $1 million for 19 Regional Transportation Program vans.

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