March 29, 2020

It’s not simply that you got it wrong, but that you got it wrong in the wrong place. On Dec. 24, you ran a story with a small lead headline on B-1 which read: “Bangor backs east-west road.” However, where the story continued on B5 a much larger banner read: “New highway would benefit much of Maine.” The real story was clear enough — the Bangor Daily News supports the construction of a four lane east-west highway. Your editorial on Dec. 27-28, “All points west” made that clear enough to anyone who missed the earlier piece.

In the editorial page editorial you put the price tag at “a little over $1 billion.” Not likely. Rural highway construction runs between $10 million and $20 million a mile (urban freeways are more expensive). A road from Calais to Gilead with an extension to Coburn Gore would cost between $3 billion and $6 billion — if it were built today.

Then a person needs wheels. The average new car costs well over $15,000. More than a third of them are imported. None are built in Maine. Another $3,000 annually to insure, maintain, and operate. Half our fuel is refined from oil which is imported as well, and Maine doesn’t produce any. Why should the people of Maine support a massive subsidy to multinational corporations like Shell and Toyota? To pump gas at (Canadian-controlled) Irving stations, and flip beef (from Argentinia) patties at rest-area Burger Kings? Rural Mainers want real jobs.

You’re right to recognize that transportation is an integral part of economic development, but wrong to assume that the construction of a new four-lane highway is the only alternative. Our money would be better spent improving existing road and rail corridors, upgrading sea and air port facilities, developing strategically located inter-modal transportation hubs, and building telecommunications capacity. We can get there from here, but not if we take the wrong road. Eric M. Larsson Castine

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