Right On Our Roads
Chad McGrew's timely letter in last week's Citizen (We've Got a Problem with Our Roads) struck a nerve with me, and hopefully others.
It seems every week I'll meet an employee in our local businesses who has driven here from Rumford, Gorham, or points beyond. It is our new reality: go where the jobs are, no matter that to get there will mean a long commute and an hour's pay for petrol everyday. Bad roads just adds insult to injury. Getting a car fixed when rent, food, and utilities need to be paid is a hard nut to swallow. To more than a few, I imagine it just doesn't seem worth it, and that leads to another dilemma no one wants to pay for: unemployment compensation and public assistance.
The recent purchase and reopening of the Saunders Mill in Locke Mills is a local example of the need for rail service. For a wood products company to compete in the global marketplace, any edge that will save on expenses, especially shipping, is vital. It is important to our local economy that the few manufacturing jobs we have here stay here, grow and remain competitive.
What was especially timely about Chad's letter was the reminder (like I need one) that thirty-seven years ago my brother Seth was killed in a car accident on the Airline in Wesley, Maine. The car in which he was a passenger failed to negotiate a dangerous curve on Route 9 and struck a cement bridge abutment. In the years since, metal "deflectors" have been installed on guardrails leading into these structures to help prevent deadly accidents like that from occurring. For years Route 9 was one of the most dangerous roads in the state. Over the years, with private and public input, it has become a model for what transportation planners use when considering improvements to other rural roads in the state, like routes 2 and 26 for instance.
I thank Chad for his insightful letter and hope the next road he's on leads to Augusta.