Apparently the east-west highway has again emerged from the crypt; this time as a private toll expressway stretching from one Canadian border to the other that promises untold riches for Maine’s north country.

What’s not to like? Well, aside from environmental concerns and the costly and cumbersome business of obtaining rights-of-way, there is the small matter that we are no longer in the big-tail-fin-era of cheap oil when similar four-lane highways were built. Gas, diesel and asphalt are now at record highs with no possibility of any decrease.

Not only will this highway be fantastically expensive to build, it will further hitch our economic future to the petroleum wagon with all of its baggage of politics, speculation, war and pollution.

Truck transportation is one of the least fuel-efficient modes of transport of goods. Witness how many truckers parked their vehicles the last time there was a large fuel spike.

If the state of Maine is really interested in developing an east-west highway for the future, it should use the one it already has — the old Canadian Pacific rail line from Lake Magantic to Vanceboro. The right of way already exists and could be easily enhanced and upgraded. The state already has invested in intermodal transportation. Pound for pound, rail is a much cheaper alternative to truck transportation. In the future, the line could be further upgraded to total electric propulsion.

Maine should not use 1950 solutions to solve 21st-century challenges.

Greg Rossel, Troy

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