“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both, And be one traveler, long I stood, And looked down one as far as I could, To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim…. I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Don’t we wish we could follow poet Robert Frost and choose the road less traveled. Perhaps it would have less holes and bumps and vehicles.

The Department of Transportation recently repaved Route 41 near our home in Mount Vernon. Of course, they did not remove the rocks that sit just below the pavement, so the smooth surface won’t last long. I’d give it three or four years before the rocks and frost heaves take over.

Last spring, DOT posted a sign on Route 41, quite near our house, that said, “BUMP.” We all wondered which bump they meant. A couple weeks later, they replaced that sign with one that said, “Bumps Next 2.3 miles.” Much more accurate.

DOT also failed to pave the small bridge in front of our house. There are some large holes in the pavement on the bridge. Because it is a state bridge, our road commissioner wasn’t allowed to pave it when he paved the rest of our road last year. I was told DOT would pave the bridge when they paved Route 41, but they didn’t.

Well, welcome to rural Maine, where potholes and bumps fill our roadways. Come on out and bump along with us. There’s no charge for those exciting bumps.

I got a kick out of the recent Portland Press Herald news story reporting that the DOT is proposing significant improvements to I-295 between Scarborough and Brunswick. They decided that stretch of road is congested, unreliable and, at times, unsafe.

We travel that section quite a lot and disagree with their conclusions. Perhaps they need to head down to Boston and try to get through or around Boston on I-93 or I-95. Our son Josh, his wife Kelly, and our granddaughters Ada and Esme live in West Bridgewater, south of Boston, so we drive those roads often.

To describe traffic on I-93 or I-95 as “touch and go” would be an exaggeration. I call it “stop and go slow” — very slow. I-295 north of Portland is a veritable speedway compared to these roads in Boston.

I-95 around Boston carries between 135,000 and 180,000 vehicles a day. It can take more than an hour to go the few miles around Boston. En route home, by the time we hit I-295 in Portland, it seems like we’re the only ones on the road.

As far as their concern about the number of accidents along that stretch of I-295, I suggest they put a couple more state troopers out there to slow people down. Although they lowered the speed limit there from 70 miles per hour to 65, people are still going between 80 and 90. I’ve never seen anyone pulled over by a trooper in that section of highway.

The Press Herald story on the DOT plan reported that adding more travel lanes along I-295 might be popular with some drivers, but it is financially and environmentally unrealistic. Good decision.

State highways throughout rural Maine are in terrible shape. I suggest DOT send staff out to ride those roads and prepare a plan for fixing them. It would take at least a decade — probably longer.

Joyce Taylor, chief engineer at DOT, told Press Herald reporter Peter McGuire, “This is really the start of a larger conversation.”

Well, Joyce, let’s expand that conversation to include all of our state highways in rural Maine. Please include my bridge in that discussion.

If only we had the road to choose that Robert Frost described in his poem. Yes, that would make all the difference.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon, ME 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.