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

Oh, March. The cruelest of all the months. A tantalizing glimpse of spring, then blam! Snow and rain and all sorts of winter madness.

This late winter/early spring storm was a doozy.

A strange capper on what was undeniably a strange winter. Despite being a milder winter in terms of temperature and snowfall, our poor state took a beating.

Potholes and frost heaves are as much a part of Maine as pine trees and chickadees. This year, though, it’s different. This year, thanks to high tides and floodwaters the roads are just gone.

Thank goodness Gov. Janet Mills had already secured disaster funding for our state to help repair the damage from the December and January storms. That is in addition to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, meaning that Maine will see over $2.5 billion in funds for our infrastructure. Every penny is needed.

As we prepare to spend these funds on the much-needed repairs, I’d like to take a moment to dream a little bigger and imagine a better way.


The things I am about to offer up for contemplation are both experimental and expensive. A bad combination for civic planning, I know, but if this season has made anything clear, it is that “the same old, same old” isn’t cutting it.

We appear to be at the point where the usual repairs amount to throwing good money after bad, and trying something new actually just makes sense.

According to a paper published at, several countries including the U.S., have been experimenting with using garbage – literal garbage – to pave new roads. I confess, our ever-increasing awareness of the damage being done by microplastics in the environment makes me wonder about the wisdom of this one, but maybe it is still a net gain? I am cautiously optimistic.

Another idea I’ve seen out there that I really like is the “phosphorescent” roadways in Denmark. These roads (in a climate more severe than ours) absorb sunlight during the day and reflect it back at night, making the roads not only safer for drivers to navigate, but also cutting out light pollution from overhead street lights.

Similarly, several places have been experimenting with a road surface devised entirely of solar panels that not only self-light at night, but that also melt away snow and ice. This, in theory at least, not only makes for a safer road to travel on, but it lessens the damage to the surface from plows, sand and salt.

While I am out here dreaming, imagine if we took this opportunity to also build in navigable bike lanes and walkways so that people could choose to get where they are going, or just get out of the house, without fear of being run over?

Now, imagine if those sidewalks doubled as housing for our power lines. Under the surface of those sidewalks would be insulated, well lit and marked chambers protecting the lines from the wind, trees and careening drivers. No longer would every storm mean massive power outages or line crews out in all sorts of nightmare weather.

I realize these ideas are a stretch, the sort of idea that gets labeled a “moonshot.” But then, we did actually make it to the moon when we decided we would. The technology is already out there. How thrilling would it be if Maine, once renowned as the forerunner in forestry – the cutting-edge technology of that time – became the bold, innovative leader in solving the infrastructure woes plaguing the world of today?

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