Brunswick, Maine has all the attributes needed to become the model for green development in New England. Located on the coast of Maine, adjacent to the retail hub of Freeport, and only half an hour north of the foodie, hipster, art and music capital of New England (Portland), Brunswick is poised to become a 21st century economic success story.

Brunswick hosts an active retirement community, an exceptional liberal arts college, and an excellent public school system. The majority of summer tourists pass through Brunswick on
I-295 or Route 1 on their way north to Boothbay, Camden, and Acadia National Park. The Redevelopment Authority is doing booming business at the Brunswick Landing and we have the
potential for an excellent transportation system centered on the newly built train and bus station.

Unfortunately, there are a few things that we do not seem to be able to address effectively. Brunswick has the widest Main(e) Street in Maine, which is a source of great civic pride for
some of our citizens, but is blatantly underutilized. In light of Brunswick’s recent declaration of climate emergency, four lanes devoted to car travel with angled parking on both sides seems
ludicrous. If we continue to incentivize private transportation, carbon emissions will go through the roof. Furthermore, front-in parking was fine back in the day, but when every other car is a
huge SUV, it becomes a game of Whack-a-Mole when trying to back out into traffic.

Brunswick needs to take a brave leap forward into the 21st Century and reimagine the way we all move about town. Imagine a town with an extensive infrastructure of bike paths (not simply a white stripe with a bike image stenciled on the pavement), sidewalks that are passable for pedestrians year round, a completely re-designed downtown Maine Street, and a vastly improved
transportation hub.

Here is how it might look:

Make Maine Street into a two-lane loop with bike lanes occupying the space previously devoted to angled parking and a pedestrian mall taking up the center two lanes. Maine Street would be
closed to private motorized vehicles from 6:00 am to midnight seven days a week. In place of private vehicles, shuttle buses would make the loop from Bath Road to Fort Andros every five
minutes. Access for private vehicles would be maintained through Pleasant Street and Federal Street. Pedal cabs could run shuttles anywhere along this loop, providing healthy employment
opportunities for the local population and a more personalized alternative to the busses.

Local retail and food establishments would notice an immediate increase in sales/business due to the increased pedestrian traffic downtown. College students would venture off campus with
greater regularity and all of Brunswick would realize less of a need for motor vehicle transportation.

The unique downtown experience and exceptional bike-ability would become the crown jewel of Maine municipalities and would be studied for decades as the case for successful green

Finnegan Woodruff is a Brunswick High School graduate and a student at Bowdoin College.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: