The Great Bridge Battle

I have a recurring nightmare of driving over the Frank J. Wood Bridge from my house in Topsham to have dinner at a Brunswick restaurant and not being able to return home because my high-calorie entree has put me over the latest weight limit.

I may be the sole resident of this area indifferent as to whether the current bridge is rebuilt or a new one constructed. What does matter is that the job gets done and that we are liberated from the lawn sign pandemic. Compared with global warming, income inequality, and our bitter cultural divide, battles over trusses seem like minor fusses.

I do feel passionately that however this controversy is resolved, the bridge needs a new name, as Frank J. Wood’s major contribution was to propose the location of the present structure, hardly warranting immortality. Indeed, the necessity of including Frank’s middle initial suggests he was not a person of great renown even in his own time.

By contrast, when the structure connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island was built, no one thought it necessary to call it the Giovanni da Verrazzano Bridge. While an alternative might be to follow the example of that bridge and use only Frank’s last name, that might generate confusion about the material from which the bridge is constructed.

Since bridging the divide between the rebuild and replace factions does not seem possible, some institution needs to be invoked to bring matters to a conclusion. That said, it is regrettable that controversies of this nature invariably wind up in court, as speed is certainly not a hallmark of our legal system.

As Topsham becomes increasingly populated by retirees like me who are one medical “incident” away from a nursing home, we cannot wait forever for this dispute to be resolved. Given the trench warfare nature of the great bridge battle, a ferry service may well warrant consideration.

Steve Diamond,

Few campaign signs can be recycled; it’s time to rethink that

When I write The Recycle Bin, I try to avoid controversy by discussing things that are best practices and well established within the solid waste community. That includes this week’s column on political yard signs. I’m also writing here because I hope others will see the unfortunate irony in the fact that very few of the campaign signs can be recycled. The great majority of them are made of a corrugated plastic material that is not only a low-grade plastic but will sort into cardboard in the automated sorting machines, where it becomes an absolute contaminant.

It’s not lost on me that saving the Frank Wood Bridge by destroying the environment is not a good trade-off.

Providing clean energy by destroying the environment is not a good trade-off.

Hiring public officials, whatever their virtues or intentions, but destroying the environment in the process, is not a good trade-off.

I believe it is incumbent upon the folks who run these campaigns to be thinking about the impact of their campaign before they start. Failing that, they have some responsibilities now that the election is over. Those plastic signs need to be collected, the metal stakes removed and recycled, and the signs then properly discarded.

The best would be if the campaigns can locate a place where the plastic could be recycled, already baled, along with other low-grade materials. You won’t make any money that way, because that plastic has little residual value as a commodity, but you will at least mitigate some of the damage they are doing by being used in the first place.

Candidates can, of course, save their signs for re-use at another election.

Either way, the people who put them there are required to now remove them. It’s time to start thinking about doing it right.

Harry Hopcroft,

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