Our governor, admirably concerned with our environment, needs to have a long, hard talk with Peter Mills, Maine Turnpike Authority executive director, regarding his proposed Gorham connector highway (“Estimated cost for Gorham connector 60% more than expected,” Nov. 29).

His stressing that the tolls will result in the project’s paying for itself is a short-term solution with a long-term expansion of Maine’s carbon footprint.

The Gorham town manager is correct with his concerns that the connector will only encourage more traffic. As the article’s author, Staff Writer Peter McGuire, notes, “Academic research has shown new road construction creates more traffic because it encourages more people to drive.”

Traffic has grown almost 30 percent, writes McGuire, with an additional 10,000 vehicles using those several westerly routes in and out of Portland since 1990. How many of the 35,000 toll-paying vehicles projected to be funneled from the connector to the Maine Turnpike will continue into downtown Portland, and where will we put them? To say nothing of the additional 20 percent currently predicted by 2040, and at what cost, and paid by whom?

True leadership requires long-term thinking for long-term benefit. “North of $200 million,” perhaps in the range of $237 million, the projected cost today of the connector, would make a substantial down payment toward a long-term solution to that traffic congestion – light rail into downtown Portland – and the reduced carbon footprint would make a substantial contribution to Gov. Mills’ environmental legacy.

R. John Wuesthoff

Portland

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