Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

Wow, we really took a thumping in this last round of storms.

I’ve been transfixed by the images of Reid State Park and Popham Beach. These places I know well have been transformed into unrecognizable landscapes.

We are facing a lot of damage, a lot of cleanup and a lot of questions. As bad as this storm sequence was, science tells us this is becoming “the new norm.”

The ramifications of climate change are global in scale and multidimensional in scope. Changing weather patterns will impact sea level, housing, famine, migrations … but I haven’t had my coffee yet, so I need to set the big things aside for a moment.

In the here and now, our neighborhoods saw a lot of infrastructure destroyed. Roads were washed out, bridges made impassable. It is against that reality I am going to ask, can we please stop with the lawsuits slowing down the replacement of the Frank J. Wood Bridge connecting Brunswick to Topsham?

It is an emotional issue. There are people, good and kind people, really attached to the bridge. I understand that. I will even grant that the replacement is not going to be one of the great wonders of the world. It is undeniably plain. Granted. However, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to cross the river without fearing for your life?


The Frank J. Wood Bridge is unsafe. Inspections have revealed it is in poor quality and deteriorating rapidly. Inspections which, I want to highlight, are now several years old. The debate has been which is better, to repair or replace?

The state opted for “replace” and while there were a lot of early questions about the metrics, several court cases now have sided with the state, the most recent decision having been handed down just this month. Followed in short order by an announcement from the Friends of the Frank J. Wood Bridge that they plan to keep fighting.

I am humbly asking them not to.

With every legal challenge, construction slows and costs increase. People have to either cross their fingers and hope for the best, or budget in extra time to take another route.

I read an interview in Down East magazine with the leader of the opposition where he spoke about bridges in the UK being hundreds of years old, the implication being we are too quick to throw this bridge out. I get that. Europe is full of ancient structures. But to get a bridge to last like that, you have to not only invest heavily in the maintenance and upkeep – you have to have built it to last from the get-go.

The FJW Bridge was not. It, along with most other government projects, was built with an eye on the bottom line – and its time has come.


I’m not suggesting that the new bridge will last the centuries. It, too, has been designed with cost front and center. Unless we have a radical rethink about municipal budgets and funding structures, that’s just reality. It will, however, be a safer option in the immediate while we wrestle with how we meet the challenges our new climate is bringing.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the group has spent $100,000 in fighting to save the bridge. That speaks to a lot of passion and commitment to the cause.

What would happen if those funds, or a similar amount, were invested instead in scholarships for the next wave of engineers? Professionals who could build us better and more attractive alternatives?

A quick check of sites that crunch the numbers suggests the average engineering scholarship lands at around $5,000. Even at a straight-spend, that’s 20 scholarships right there. Invested and managed properly, those funds could be a game changer.

I have a lot of empathy for a desire to cling to the past. Given what’s coming our way, though, I hope we can let go and work together to decide what we need to create a bright, safe and inspiring future.

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