I read with interest the story by Tux Turkel that announced that the state has reached an agreement to buy 223 miles of railroad track in northern Maine for the “bargain price” of only $20 million. A bargain at just under $100,000 a mile. And another $10 million is allocated for “improvements.” That’s $30 million in total! What shrewd use of the taxpayers’ money in such a dire economic climate.

The actual railroad professionals who owned this little stretch of track “had begun the process of abandoning the line.” But, of course, our state leaders know more about the financial viability of an actual railroad business than those actually in that industry.

And “750 to 1,000 jobs could have been threatened.” No certainty that they were actually threatened or that they could be sustained anyway. Why not just pay the 750 “threatened” workers $40,000 each and advise them to use the money to start transitioning to careers that will provide a future?

There’s good reason that the railroad company was abandoning the tracks: It’s not viable as a business model. But I’ll bet we could have sent a third grade student to negotiate a better deal than $20 million for what a company was going to abandon anyway.

Ask the truckers how they feel about this expenditure. Are we going to give them $30 million in subsidies so they can feel equal?

This sounds like a bad joke from a “Saturday Night Live” skit. Never underestimate the staggering disconnect from reality that politicians are capable of. But $30 million for 223 miles of track that was being abandoned? I had to say it again to believe it myself.

Bret Gilliam



Call for Sunday hunting leaves some Mainers cold


I understand that people who hunt really would love to have an extra (weekend) day to do so.

New Hampshire allows hunting on Sunday. That is one of the few good reasons I had for moving to Maine. I have a dog who runs like a gazelle — leaps on his back legs at times. The only day that he can safely run in the woods is Sunday. The only day I feel safe in walking in the woods in the breathtaking autumn Maine woods is Sunday.

It’s a shame you have to take a day off work if you want to kill something on a day besides Saturday. You have six days. All I am asking for is one safe day per week.

M.L. Owen



I am responding to Patrick Wolfe’s Oct. 24 letter asking why no Sunday hunting.

I did some research, and the hunting population makes up roughly 25 percent of the state’s total. I ask why the other 75 percent shouldn’t have one day a week to enter the woods without fear of being shot?

The great Maine outdoors should be available for all to enjoy, not a select minority who happen to fatten the state coffers with money.

Allan Phinney



Infrastructure dilemma: Time to cross that bridge


Your coverage through a number of articles in October regarding the challenges faced with replacing or repairing the bridges between Kittery and Portsmouth have provided a high-profile example of what can be characterized as a growing problem with deteriorating infrastructure throughout the state of Maine, threatening our local economies, quality of life and perhaps even safety.

In 2008, the Maine Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers released the Report Card for Maine’s Infrastructure, which assigned 14 infrastructure areas a cumulative grade of C-, and since then, hopes for improvement remain dim. In most cases, public agency budgets were, and continue to be, less than half of what is recommended to address Maine’s needs.

The Maine Department of Transportation’s forecasted needs for the overall state-managed transportation system are in excess of $6 billion, which is $3 billion more than what is currently budgeted for the future.

The number of deficient National Highway System bridges in Maine has risen to 26.4 percent, while the national average of 20 percent has slightly decreased in same time period.

The Maine Better Transportation Association has prepared a policy paper — titled Transportation: The Case for Investment — with recommendations for addressing our state’s deteriorating transportation infrastructure. We encourage the public and our policy makers to take a look and take a stand.

Short-term bonds help but do not provide a long-term solution to a growing problem that impacts all of us every day. Better prioritization of revenue streams on sustainable investments in infrastructure, even in tough economic times, is vital to our safety, quality of life and economy, including much needed job growth.

Walter Fagerlund, P.E.

President, Maine Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers



Trader Joe’s supports access to Bayside Trail


We write this letter in response to an earlier letter to the editor, “Urban grocery store deserves accessible trail,” on Saturday Oct. 23.

Trader Joe’s wholeheartedly agrees with the writer’s assertion that there should be access from the new Bayside Trail to the property on which Trader Joe’s sits.

The new fence was installed as a replacement of an existing old, rusting fence. Trader Joe’s has attempted several times to persuade its landlord to install a gate or pass-through in the fence to no avail. The fact that there is no access from the trail to the store site is not Trader Joe’s desire; Trader Joe’s would prefer to have an opening for people to access the store from the trail.

In the end, though, it is not Trader Joe’s decision, and we have been told that the gate would not be approved by the landowner.

We are hopeful that access will open up and will continue to work to persuade our landlord to install a gate or opening, which we agree would positively contribute to a more convenient access point to our new grocery store for cyclists, joggers and pedestrians.

Trader Joe’s

Submitted by Alison Mochizuki

Director of national public relations

Monrovia, Calif.