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TOPSHAM — A local man’s 25 years of experience has culminated in his appointment to head the state Department of Transportation.
Gov.-elect Janet Mills’ announced her nomination of Bruce Van Note, a Topsham resident who was born in Houlton and grew up in Bath, as DOT commissioner Dec. 20. He will succeed David Bernhardt and is expected to be confirmed next month by the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation and the state Senate.
Van Note has been director of policy and planning at the Maine Turnpike Authority since 2014, and spent the prior 12 years as deputy DOT commissioner.
In a press release last week he said he was “honored and humbled” that Mills selected him to “lead the dedicated people at (DOT). Safe, reliable, and easy travel is part of what makes us Maine and what makes a real difference in people’s lives every day – whether it’s a safe and predictable trip to work, a vibrant downtown that works for everyone, an efficient delivery of goods, or a trip to one of the hundreds of special spots across the state.”
He added that he looks forward to working with Mills, the Legislature, DOT staff, and leaders in municipalities and industries “to improve our transportation system and take it to the next level.”
Mills credited Van Note’s skills and experience in qualifying to lead DOT.
While serving in the Legislature and as attorney general, she said, “I became familiar with his depth of knowledge, policy acumen, and reputation for honesty – all of which will serve the people of Maine well. I look forward to working with Bruce to craft policy initiatives to improve and enhance our state’s transportation system and to better position Maine to thrive into the future.”
Van Note, 58, and his wife have four sons. He started at DOT as its principal attorney for engineering and construction, then served as director of the Office of Policy & Communications. He also chaired the Maine Port Authority from 2011-2014 and was a member of the MTA board of directors from 2009-2014.
Van Note’s management of planning efforts since 2014 has included multi-million dollar improvements along Interstate 95, including implementation of high-speed tolling, widening and safety efforts around greater Portland, and planned interchange improvements.
He has served on Topsham’s Planning Board since 2009. He was also on the town’s Administrative Review Committee in 2004 and on the Charter Commission in 2007, according to Town Clerk Linda Dumont.
Along with his public service, Van Note owned and ran a small land use and surveying consulting firm in the Brunswick area; operated a solo part-time legal practice that specialized in alternative dispute resolution, real estate and land use; and was an associate attorney at an Auburn law firm that focused on real estate.
Van Note was awarded DOT’s highest honor, the David H. Stevens Award, in 2010. The Sagadahoc County Commissioners granted him the Spirit of America Award in 2017 for outstanding community volunteerism.
If confirmed as agency commissioner he will oversee Maine’s 8,800 miles of state highway and 2,700 bridges, along with railroads, airports, seaports, ferries and transit buses. The department averages $650 million in annual expenditures and has nearly 2,000 employees.