With the expansion of the Downeaster to Brunswick, and the overall success of the train, Amtrak and the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority should look next into the feasibility of expanding service up to Rockland.

With relatively little investment, Maine could easily and quickly expand its passenger rail service along the midcoast to increase tourism, mobility, road safety and private investment.

The Maine Eastern Railroad currently operates on the Rockland Branch (Brunswick to Rockland) with a scenic train during the summers. However, the communities along the line and Route 1 could undoubtedly benefit from regular rail service.

First and foremost, any mass transit that has the ability to take pressure off Route 1 should be considered.

Secondly, the Maine Department of Transportation rebuilt the line not that long ago, allowing the current scenic train to operate around 50 mph.

The costs of new platforms are relatively cheap and could be built quickly in the communities along the rail line. With upgraded signal systems and rail crossings, the train could be quickly and efficiently whisking people up the midcoast.

With high volumes of traffic up the midcoast, a rebuilt rail line between Brunswick and Rockland and Amtrak’s resources, expanding daily Downeaster service to Rockland is a natural fit.

Eben Sweetser

Cumberland

 

After reading “Last leg of long journey for Downeaster” (Nov. 2), I was curious to see what the return on the investment would be.

According to the article, $38.3 million was spent to upgrade the tracks, and the anticpated increase in riders will be 36,000 annually.

A round-trip ticket from Portland to Brunswick is $22. So in a mere 48 years, the upgrades will be paid for. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the annual cost to run the train.

There have to be more productive ways to spend $38.3 million, regardless of its origin.

Jim Anderson

Portland

 

Advent of autumn brings more traffic, sidewalk woes

 

Well, it’s fall, and my concern over sidewalk clearing, sidewalk blocking, stop and yield signs, etc., is going up again.

The Portland Police Department does a wonderful job, considering the budget problems, but they can’t be everywhere.

Stop signs in neighborhoods off the main streets are usually ignored.

People park their cars, boats and trailers on sidewalks, making it necessary for those of us who walk dogs to wander out into the street to get by.

Main crosswalks (Brighton and Beacon, for example) are as likely to get you run over as crossing mid-block.

And, of course, the situation will get a lot worse with the first snowfall.

Add all this to the general feeling that if your car can do 95 on the interstate, you might as well. It will get you there more quickly. Of course, it makes life inconvenient for those of us who follow speed limits, but what the heck.

Anyway, it’s time for the ice creepers. And snow tires. And, above all, a lot of prayer that we will survive another winter in Portland.

Joe Kolko

Portland

Mom urges more awareness of premature birth’s impact

 

As the hustle and bustle surrounding this year’s election season begin to wind down, I hope people will join me on Nov. 17 to observe World Prematurity Day.

On this special day, families across the country will honor the memory of millions of babies worldwide who died this year and recognize those that struggle each day to survive, all because they were born too soon.

My daughter Hailey was born prematurely two years ago, and since her release from the hospital, I’ve been working with the March of Dimes to raise awareness about the serious problem of premature birth.

Prematurity is the leading cause of newborn death in the United States. Even babies born just a few weeks too soon can face serious health challenges and are at risk for lifelong disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, lung problems, vision and hearing loss and learning disabilities.

I encourage you to join me and the March of Dimes by visiting facebook.com/WorldPrematurityDay to learn more about how we can all work together for stronger, healthier babies.

Awareness is the first step to solving this problem, and families like mine who have been affected by this issue will be grateful for your support.

Jennifer Burke

Biddeford

 

City needs ‘quality housing,’ not more office buildings

 

It was disheartening to read the Portland Press Herald article about the condominium-office-retail project slated for development on Fore Street next to the Hampton Inn hitting the skids because their office tenant backed out (“$18M Old Port development delayed,” Oct. 9).

For a while, it seemed that Portland was all revved up with economic development that would have given the city much-needed quality housing — opportunities that have heretofore gone asunder.

Why, however, was this developer introducing new office space in a city already saturated with empty office buildings?

I firmly believe that “build it and they will come” is the best course for devleopers to follow — and that housing should be their focus because there’s so little of it here. From empty nesters looking for a city lifestyle to people from away attracted to Portland’s small-town/big-city advantages, the absorption rate could be impressive, more than our current crop of short-sighted developers has assessed.

What the city sorely needs is an interesting housing mix beyond its love affair with affordable housing. Attractive condos, rentals and the like are in short supply. While there’s a boom in hotel development under way, we should be addressing our housing needs with equal bravado.

John Golden

principal partner, Lux Realty Group

Portland