I was disheartened to see that plans for building a cold-storage facility right on the Portland waterfront have been revived (March 5).

Two months ago, over 50 Portland residents signed a letter raising concerns with that location. The site is basically old landfill – and susceptible to coastal flooding; the added traffic will greatly increase neighborhood congestion and air pollution; and forcing more trucks downtown hardly helps meet our governor’s carbon-neutral goals.

But looking at the plans I realized another problem: It could prevent the completion of a regional Portland commuter rail.

The suggested site is the same land needed for a proposed “rail-trail” that would connect commuters from Westbrook to Portland and beyond. That land, which already contains old train tracks available for use, looks slated to become the new cold-storage parking lot.

What if, instead of blocking the existing tracks, we used them to their full potential? We could load goods directly on a train bed and over to a cold-storage facility at a more convenient location – somewhere next to the highway and connected to the rest of our statewide rail system. This efficient type of “inland port” is already used by coastal cities around the country.

Instead of a 75-foot refrigerator on the waterfront, let’s imagine: a direct cargo rail, a carbon-free commuter train and maybe even a sunny public park along the bay.

Yes, more cold storage is necessary, but let’s choose a location that’s better for our city residents and our climate goals.

Charles Skold


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