Maine Governor John Baldacci helps launch the Cat on her maiden voyage from Portland to Nova Scotia. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Augusta/September 2006

by Ramona du Houx

Governor John Baldacci recently helped to bring the CAT to Portland, and a cruse line to Bangor. More and more people are taking cruises for their vacations. Maine, with its mystical coastline, natural treasures and picturesque cities, has become a sought-after destination. In 2005, Maine’s 12 ports hosted a total of 180 ship calls, in comparison with 74 ship calls in 2000. In Maine direct spending by cruise lines totaled roughly $31 million last year, which was over twice as much as in 2004.

The governor was instrumental in getting low-cost flights from New York to Portland with JetBlue and helping charter services for Northern Maine.

“This governor has done a tremendous amount for transportation,” said Portland Mayor Cohen. “At every step of the way, with every mode of transportation he has helped improved transportation for the city. He is the transportation governor.”

Since his earliest years in the U.S. Congress, John Baldacci has been working to get train services throughout Maine. He was instrumental in bringing Amtrak’s Downeaster to Maine. As a congressman he chose the Transportation Committee as one of his many committees, because he understands how important good highways, waterways, and train routes are to a state as large as Maine.

He has improved major intermodal centers, where goods are shipped by truck, train, and sometimes plane, making them more interactive, which saves costs. He understands that it is a challenge — in costs — for businesses to ship their goods. The more modes of transportation available, the more the expense diminishes.

He understands that people are looking for less stress in their lives, and a good train system makes commuting pleasant while saving energy costs.

His recent executive order to conduct research into train services for more northern routes is a major initiative for the state of Maine. The order also calls for more focus on economic development options near existing train stations along the Amtrak Downeaster route. This will assist the creative economy in those areas.

“Every month the Downeaster is breaking new ridership records. The Downeaster is bringing new energy to downtown economic development in Old Orchard, Saco, and other communities. It’s time to head north,” said the governor.

The governor builds upon what he has achieved. The Downeaster is a boon for the state with many southern residents commuting to Boston, and visitors coming to Maine for day excursions. With the governor’s tireless work, we will be able to “get there from here.”