To the Editor:
I was really interested to note that there were three submissions of Letters to The Editor in the August 20, 2009 edition of `The Lincoln County News. I suspect, the recent heat wave coupled with long drive times due to traffic backups in Wiscasset heightened the level of frustration for many people trying to get somewhere that required passing through Wiscasset.
For years we have heard two groups of citizens, the residents and the merchants, blame each other for not allowing the town or the state to come up with a solution that is agreeable to all parties. In fact, I heard recently that this blame game has actually been going on for nearly 30 years.
Last week, we heard from Donald Jones, Chairman, Wiscasset Transportation Committee, that there is a third party we should blame, the Army Corp of Engineers. Has everyone forgotten that the United States, and that includes Maine, is very much impacted by a world wide energy crisis?
Yet every day from Memorial Day to at least Labor Day, there are hundreds of cars and trucks heading either north or south on Rt. 1, idling in traffic anywhere from five to 20 minutes trying to pass through the center of Wiscasset.
Bob Harding of Bristol suggested that traffic should be re-routed through the small villages on the outskirts of Wiscasset instead of building a by-pass as a viable solution. I seem to recall seeing people on the road that served as a bypass when the state was repairing the bridge just before the Taste of Maine restaurant trying to get out of their driveways in order to get to work or bring their kids to school. They were not very happy to have to deal with non-stop traffic on their usually tranquil road. I think that would probably happen if cars and trucks were encouraged to use some of the roads that pass through the smaller villages outside of Wiscasset.
I truly enjoyed Mr. Harding’s observation that for many the site of the Davy Bridge is like the “Light at the end of the tunnel” and that, as soon as they can, drivers sail by Red’s Eats, Sarah’s Cafe and the various shops in Wiscasset. I am reminded that I have yet to meet a tourist who asked for directions to Wiscasset. Rather, those I do meet and speak with always ask if there is a way to avoid going through Wiscasset as they head home.
Several years ago, one of my former bosses wanted to stop by to visit me on his way to Arcadia for a family vacation. That day the backup heading North started on the Bath Bridge and it took him over an hour to get to Newcastle. As bad as that was, his wife and two kids needed to use a rest room and there was none nearby. When he got back to Connecticut he called me to say that based on that trip he would never consider a trip to Maine again in the future.
Morrison Bonpasse of Newcastle suggested that people should avoid travel during peak periods, Easier said than done, especially if someone is trying to go to work or return home from work. Most people work similar hours. He also suggested building a pedestrian bridge or re-locating Red’s Eats. Building a bridge, would be a difficult effort as I have been told there frequently are trucks that haul boats that have very tall masts that pass through Wiscasset. I think a better solution would be a traffic monitor to encourage pedestrians to cross the street at crosswalks and to cross with other pedestrians rather than to cross alone.
Thirty years is a long time for something as important as this issue is and for the huge number of people that are impacted every year. It really is time for the various parties to recognize that the positions they have taken are seriously impacting the lives of the people who live here as well as the economy. It is time to find a plan that we all can live with. In the end it will probably be another 10 years or so, before any solution could be implemented.
Barbara Contardo, Newcastle