The plan to build new surface lots at the Portland International Jetport is a shortsighted solution to what may be a temporary problem.

Just decades ago, the jetport was a modest facility with little parking demand, and the Maine Mall was a robust shopping destination that merited large parking lots. Today, most of these mall lots sit empty as the anchor stores struggle to stay put. Meanwhile, demand for jetport parking is at an all-time high.

The most cost-effective – and environmentally friendly – solution would be for these two entities to work together and use the existing parking infrastructure. PWM could purchase a small fleet of shuttle buses that could complete the 2-mile trip at regular intervals, and even construct a small bus shelter for customers on the mall’s premises, all for much less cost than excavating a wooded area and paving it over with new asphalt. The mall could, in turn, negotiate a long-term lease with the jetport for lots dedicated to airport parking.

Vast expanses of pavement, like those seen at the mall, are already known to be contributing to climate change through the “heat island effect.” As long as automobiles remain our default mode of transportation, we should at least take advantage of what has already been built, rather than disturbing the residents of Stroudwater and exacerbating the problem.

Scott Whiting

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