Maine gubernatorial candidate, Democrat Janet Mills speaks to supporters at her election night victory party, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Portland, Maine. Credit: Elise Amendola | AP

Gov.-elect Janet Mills has selected Houlton native Bruce Van Note, a former deputy transportation commissioner and planning director for the Maine Turnpike Authority, as her choice to serve as commissioner of the Department of Transportation.

Mills has been busy in recent weeks filling out her cabinet nominees, tapping nominees to head her departments of health and human services, financial services, and inland fisheries and wildlife.

The incoming governor credits Van Note with managing the teams responsible for some of Maine’s most recognizable transportation projects in recent years, including the landmark Sagadahoc Bridge, Naples Bay Bridge, and Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory.

In his current position with the turnpike authority, he managed the planning behind implementation of high-speed tolling and widening of the highway in the Portland area, according to the governor-elect’s team.

Van Note, 58, was born in Houlton, grew up in Bath and now lives in Topsham with his wife. The couple has four adult sons, according to Mills.

He is a member of the Topsham Planning Board and served as chairman of the Topsham Local Redevelopment Authority, the board overseeing the civilian reuse of military properties in the town after the closure of the nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station in 2011.

“Bruce’s experience and skills make him well-qualified to lead the Maine Department of Transportation,” said Mills in a statement. “As a member of the Legislature and as Attorney General, 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.”

He served as deputy transportation commissioner from 2002 until 2014, according to the governor-elect’s Friday announcement, and has spent since 2014 as director of policy and planning for the Maine Turnpike Authority. He also served as the chairman of the Maine Port Authority from 2011 to 2014 and remains on the board of directors for the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, among many other transportation-related positions.

“I am honored and humbled that Gov.-elect Mills has selected me to lead the dedicated people at Maine Department of Transportation,” Van Note said in a statement, in part. “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.”

The transportation system overseen by the Maine commissioner includes 8,818 miles of state highway, 2,742 bridges, airports, seaports, railroads, transit buses and ferries, according to Mills, as well as an annual budget of about $650 million and nearly 2,000 employees.

Van Note’s nomination is subject to the approval of the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation, as well as the Maine Senate.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.