For more than 80 years, Maine has had in place a fine east-west highway.

It begins in Vanceboro on the New Brunswick border, travels westward through Matawamkeag, Brownville, Greenville, Jackman, then over the Canadian border, and on to Montreal and points further west.

The only difference between it and the proposed $2 billion-plus superhighway advocated by certain entrepreneurs is that it has two rails rather than four lanes.

This present railed highway can carry more containers and other cargo than trucks, and it can do so much cheaper. There is substantial energy savings transporting by rail.

All that would be needed is a relativity short spur line from Eastport northward to intersect with the present east-west rail line.

The cutting of a massive new four-lane highway more than 200 miles through the heart of our north woods would cause great environmental and cultural loss. Yes, after construction a few jobs would be created, but not many.

Such a new highway would be a handy convenience for those living in Eastport or Dover-Foxcroft if they were commuting to Montreal. But for most Mainers, it would simply be a heavy red line cutting across a Maine map.

Mainers well understand that commerce in Maine has always flowed on a north-south axis, not east-west.  It is probable that it will remain so far into the future.

The proposed $2 billion-plus can be much better spent on desperately needed infrastructure elsewhere in Maine.

Steve Clark

Scarborough

I, like more than 800 other concerned citizens, attended the informational meeting May 31 at Foxcroft Academy regarding the east-west highway.

Presentations were made by proponents Peter Vigue and his apparent agent, state Sen. Thomas, R-Ripley. Written questions followed; however, the open mic period was deleted. After the show, I left dead set against it.

In his attempts to pander to the crowd, Vigue’s patronizing pitches fell flat. One such pitch, a personal anecdote involving a Texas industrialist’s view of Maine, elicited a number of Tim Sample-style comebacks.

Note: These are not apologetic bumpkins in the “Hollow Middle,” nor do they consider themselves at the “end of the road,” but at its beginning.

My experiences with folks from away have been very different. Many wish they could live here. They love the environment we call home.

He expects us to simply consent to this “big dig” project, to surrender a commons we all cherish for a dubious project that has no real benefit for us.

Vigue’s evasive answers to questions and his questionable props left me wondering what the true intent of the project is.

Several times Vigue stated that if anyone had another idea as to how to improve our depressed economy, he is “all ears.”

We all know why the jobs left. It wasn’t because of infrastructure.

Work for legislation that truly supports our economy. We don’t need containers laden with goods we formerly produced zooming by us to markets we formerly enjoyed.

Let’s take care of our already in-place infrastructure, both rail and road.

Vigue stated we must “look ahead.” Trucks are good for the short haul but not for long distance.

I don’t buy Vigue’s argument that trains are unpredictable. Times past, we could set our watches by them. The United States has “class one” rail lines that are the envy of the world. Let’s expand on that.

Besides the unknown investors whose money generates a dividend if successful, or they can walk away if not, our investment doesn’t show up on any ledger. Yet we will pay a very dear price whether this venture is successful or a failure.

We don’t need business as usual, but business as unusual.

So, no thank you to this east-west highway. The guise that it’s in Maine’s best interest is false.

The hallowed middle, the jewel in the crown of the Northeast, doesn’t believe these hollow promises.

Jason Kafka

Parkman

Bishop’s take on sexuality, marriage not a good model

When Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson took the stage after the screening of his biographical film, I doubt the audience knew they were being duped. Bishop Robinson can’t help the gay-marriage effort in Maine because he’s on the wrong side of history (“Bishop to advocate for gay marriage in Maine,” June 3).

Looks like any time people vote, including the liberal church, the gay choice does not claim victory.

Since Bishop Robinson’s “historic” election in 2003 to lead the diocese of New Hampahire, there have been no gay or lesbian priests elected as diocesan bishops, although there were openly homosexual priests in the running. Bishop Robinson’s new take on sexuality and marriage never became a model for diocesan leadership.

In the nine-plus years since his election, only one person with a same-sex orientation has been elected, and that was not to be the bishop of a diocese. Mary Glasspool is only the suffragan (assisting) bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Even Bishop Robinson’s own diocese of New Hampshire recently elected a heterosexual priest to take his place.

Instead, during Bishop Robinson’s tenure, there has been a schism in the Episcopal Church, and the pews are getting emptier.  

I pity the Maine audiences see this bishop as a civil-rights hero, while in truth he is just a celebrity blip on the wrong side of history, a flash in the pan without the ability to sway the people.

Bishop Robinson’s unbiblical, undoctrinal and uninspired life is becoming a blip of noninterest in history.

Debra A. Wagner

Lisbon Falls

Reasons for the ‘skills gap’ in Maine economy run deep

I agree that Maine manufacturing businesses are rightly concerned about filling open jobs as our economy recovers (“New training programs seek to close skills gap,” May 30). However, the “skills gap” in Maine goes well beyond our manufacturing sector. Experts predict that 90 percent of new jobs in Maine between 2008 and 2018 will require some type of formal education beyond high school.

And a recent Maine skills gap analysis projects 26,000 new high-wage jobs and growth jobs over 10 years, but with 4,000 high-wage jobs going unfilled.

These projections do not bode well for sustained economic growth and security. We need to look further than our community colleges and universities for solutions to help students develop the skills our businesses need.

Let’s rethink how our high school students are taught. Innovative education models across the country, including here in Maine, are bringing “career relevance” into high school classrooms.

For example, rigorous academic curriculum is integrated with career themes, equipping students with important skills for particular occupations, as well as the increasingly important skills of communication, collaboration and critical thinking.

Students take classes together as a cohort with a college preparatory, career-themed curriculum that helps them see the connections between academic subjects and their real-world applications. We have the ability to develop the talent our businesses and economic need with our own young Mainers. We just need the vision to do so.

Rick Stanley

president, Sanford Chamber of Commerce

and member, America’s Edge