As bridge deteriorates, supporters celebrate

Supporters of the Frank J. Wood Bridge celebrated the recent news that further structural weakening would necessitate lowering the weight limit for vehicles crossing the span from 25 to 10 tons. No longer will school buses or fire engines be able to sully this precious depression-era relic.

The bridge is aging nicely, they chortled. Like fine wines improving with age, bridges develop a fine patina of deterioration, a spokesperson explained. Think of cheeses developing holes or become rippled through with mold. Few bridges are allowed to degrade to this extent. As the bridge weakens it becomes ever more precious. Soon the bridge won’t even support heavier SUVs. This will be a triumph of preservation: we will still be able to depend on an outmoded design as it becomes daily less useful.

Supporters of a new bridge simply noted that safety and functionality matter, too. Perhaps a new bridge will serve us better, they wondered, one that serves all the purposes of all who live and work in the two towns, not just the connoisseurs of rust.

Douglas C. Bennett,
Topsham

Brunswick needs less fossil fuel infrastructure

The Brunswick Town Council’s unanimous support of widening Pleasant Street is a prime example of regulatory capture – which is a form of corruption in which a political entity serves the interests of a wealthy minority instead of the general public.

The fossil fuel industry and all of the big businesses linked to oil and gas want us to dismiss the climate crisis, such that we make no substantial changes to how we live. They want us to accelerate our consumption.

Pleasant Street is already a misnomer. As it is now used, the road resembles an extended on-ramp, and it is extremely unpleasant terrain for humans on foot or a bicycle. It has become a sacrifice zone of abandoned lots, fast-food joints, motels, and businesses serving cars – similar to what congregates near an interstate highway exit.

The clear intent of widening this monstrosity is to make it easier to drive faster. But more lanes will also welcome even more climate wreckers to use our city as a drive-through – increasing the daily count to over 30,000 and solving nothing. If you build it, they will come. This pattern has occurred for decades all over the country.

Councilors explain that more high-speed asphalt is necessary for safety. That argument invites some obvious questions. Is safety only a concern for today’s motorists? What is “safe” about incredibly severe weather, epic heat waves, bizarre droughts, and food shortages? That is exactly where we are headed, and there is no bypass.

The insanity of climate denial must end now. Brunswick needs less fossil fuel infrastructure, not more. We are long overdue for governance and local business that is forward-thinking and courageous.

Paul Rousseau,
Brunswick

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