Brunswick-Topsham bridge preservation proponents costing taxpayers millions with appeal

Discussions of the health and safety of the Frank J Wood bridge date as far back as the mid ’90s when the Coastal Connector was proposed. At that time, the bridge was already beyond its 50-year expected life span. Every engineering report noted the failing condition of the bridge. In the intervening years, several costly repairs have been made to the deteriorating structure. But its structural integrity continues to deteriorate. As the saying goes “Rust never sleeps.”

After an extensive and lengthy analysis that included many sessions for public input, MeDOT concluded a new bridge would be less expensive to build and maintain, less disruptive to traffic during construction and offer new amenities. Win, win, win, win.

Not so fast, say the Friends of the Frank J Wood bridge.

Supporters of saving the bridge note the bridge’s historic aesthetic and heritage. They argue MeDOT cost analysis is flawed.

Perhaps it is for a reason this is one of the few remaining bridges of this style in Maine. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but to me, it looks like an eyesore.

Supporters of a new bridge argue that it’s new and improved (to borrow an advertising phrase)! It has an open level design with pedestrian lookouts on both sides offering scenic views up and down the river. It also offers improved safety with its expanded walkways and bike lanes on both sides. It would be the centerpiece of the two business communities and a contribution to the lifestyle of the two vibrant towns it connects.

Despite the overwhelming public support for the new bridge, opponents have tied the issue up in court with appeal after appeal. I have read the most recent appeal and in my less than Solomonic, layman’s judgment, it seems close to frivolous with its divergent, but nit-picking, engineering reports and its insinuations of malfeasance by the MeDOT.

No matter what the outcome of the appeal, one fact remains. The cost of either replacing or repairing the bridge has gone up by millions of dollars to the tax payer. That’s a loss for both sides.

Bill Fitzsimmons,
Topsham

CMP customer service a maddening experience

Editor’s note: The Times Record normally will not publish letters to the editor that are consumer complaints. We are making an exception due to the fact that residents in our area have little to no choice in which company delivers their electricity.

I write to relate an anecdote which may say something about what Central Maine Power likes to call customer service. In August 2020, I contracted with a roofing company for some work on my home in West Bath. The company asked that I notify CMP of the proposed work and request that they “cover up” my electric service for the safety of the roofers. This I did and within two days a CMP line worker accomplished the task. I was impressed, favorably.

In March 2021, with a new roof on, I called CMP Customer Service to let them know that the cover-up could be removed.

And I called.

And I called.

Seven times I called over a period of about eight weeks (not to be a pest). I was told at various times: “The work order is automatic.” Or “I’ll let operations know.” Nothing happened. On the seventh call, I asked the representative to get back to me with word of progress, if any. In due course, the rep called to say: “The work will be done later today or tomorrow.” Nothing. That was late June.

In this case, it seems clear that CMP/CS was an answering service with a programmed spiel intended to placate and put off customer concerns but with no power for, interest in, or responsibility for dealing with those concerns productively. They took the calls and, maybe, filed them. Job done. To date, no action. I am disgusted.

If I could change my electricity delivery company, I would. . .

BUT WAIT! . . . Maybe I can.

Peter Stackpole, 
West Bath

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