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Gubernatorial candidate Cutler makes transportation, communications infrastructure pitch

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PORTLAND, Maine — Gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler called for improved roads, cellular service and Internet access during the first major policy announcement of his campaign on Tuesday.

Cutler said Maine needs to fix and modernize its road system to improve the state's economy, which he said lags because of outdated roads and bridges. He made the announcement at Harbor View Memorial Park in Portland, overlooking the Casco Bay Bridge.

Cutler also said Maine is second to last in the U.S. in broadband speed and needs an upgrade for the state's businesses to remain competitive.

"Maine is operating 20th century transportation and communication networks that aren't capable of supporting a robust 21st century economy," Cutler said.

Cutler, an Independent, is a businessman who lives in Cape Elizabeth. He is running against Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud.

LePage spokesman Brent Littlefield said that transportation and communications are high on the governor's agenda. LePage announced a $2 billion plan to fix and improve Maine roads, bridges, waterways and other infrastructure last year, Littlefield said.

Michaud's camp responded that the congressman is the only candidate in the race with a history of uniting Democrats and Republicans on transportation issues. Michaud sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Cutler detailed a 21-point platform that includes overhauling roads and cellular service and expanding ship and rail access in the state. The plan also includes converting school textbooks to digital models. Cutler also wants to create a construction schedule for fixing Maine's bridges, a third of which he said are obsolete or structurally deficient.

The state could pay for the projects by borrowing money, generating new revenue sources and seeking federal assistance, he said

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