LIMESTONE, Maine — Maine Military Authority employees may be able to continue their transit bus repair work with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, according to Loring Development Authority President Carl Flora.
Flora said in a Oct. 19 board meeting that recent discussions between Gov. Paul LePage’s delegation and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority had a positive outcome.
“I don’t know the exact implications of the meeting,” Flora said, “but based on the reports that I’ve heard, I’m encouraged.”
Flora added that he “does not have any details to share at this point,” and he wrote in the meeting memorandum that he believes the Maine Military Authority “will continue its work on the [Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority] buses and will complete the contract.”
Limestone workers faced potential job when LePage announced he was halting a $19 million contract between the two entities, in which the MMA would renovate 32 buses. Concerned that the $19 million was a low bid, LePage put the brakes on the bus contract in an effort to save taxpayers from having to pick up the slack on any potential cost overruns, according to a previous report by the Bangor Daily News.
The project, which would add six years to the 12-year lifespan of 32 diesel-electric public transit buses, was about one-third complete when stalled, with 11 buses finished.
While 10-day layoff notices were sent to employees Oct. 6, employees were still working at the facility on Oct. 18, according to Maine State Employees Association Executive Director Rod Hiltz.
“We had spoken with human resources yesterday morning, and they reported that Maine Military workers are still doing great work at Loring,” Hiltz said, adding the Department of Labor has been notified about rapid response services if they are needed.
Hiltz said he is happy to hear about Flora’s positive report and “looks forward to continued success” in the “important work that [Maine State Employees Association] employees are doing” for the MMA/Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority project.
While the halt could result in 63 layoffs, the MMA has experienced similar situations in the past and once employed 500 workers when it specialized in Humvee renovation.