Gorham Connector

After living through the I-395/Route 9 connector study/project for the past 24 years, there are similarities these two projects share and our hard-learned experiences can predict what those who oppose the Gorham Connector project will surely endure.

As of February 18, 2024, informaton has been added on the Gorham Connector, a project much like the I-395/Route 9 Connector that my community has experienced for 24 years. Both are boondoggles, throwing hundreds of millions of critical transportation dollars of new pavement and steel at a problem without seriously considering cheaper alternatives to existing infrastructure, at a time when we can't afford to maintain the roads and bridges we already have. Maintaining roads and bridges is not "sexy", transportation officials that demand these boondoggles and the politicians that fund them just love ribbon cutting ceremonies.

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

7.05.2024 – Imagine that, transportation officials leaving key information to themselves as evidenced in this Portland Herald article. The MaineDOT will still not answer why the new connector in Brewer goes through an area clearly marked on official state maps as “I395 PROTECTED WETLANDS”. Will this possible historic designation save Smiling Hill Farms? Not necessarily….

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

6.28.2024 – Channel 2 Portland/Bangor reports on the Gorham Connector:

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

5.26.2024 – Recent Oped in the Portland Press Herald:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

5.05.2024 – Three opinions, pro and con, concerning the Gorham Connector. The first two articles to not permit comments, so one wonders what the masses would say if they were able to. The first is by MTA’s Peter Mills promoting his favorite project and the second is by a gentleman that owns a business park which could easily profit from the connector. I may be wrong, but I think that was the older gentleman that spoke melancholy about railroads at the first public meeting. The third article addresses climate concerns and has  a few comments:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

5.01.2024 – The MTA Facebook page – seems nobody likes the MTA’s proposal…

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.25.2024: Letter to the Editor – Portland Press Herald/Forecaster/American Journal:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.22.2024 – Grow Smart is against the Gorham Connector and wants a Governor Mills group to look at it as “it will irrevocably harm the environment for unclear benefits.”

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Don’t look to Governor Mills to stop this project. Why do I say that? I thought Governor-elect Mills would want to take another look at the I-395/Route 9 Connector and  I provided her transition office with the following documents:

 

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Did Governor Mills read anything I sent? Apparently not…

The following is an email that I sent to Governor Mills on 1.18.2019:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

The following is an unsolicited response from the MaineDOT on 1.25.2019, apparently sparked from the email sent to the Governor on 1.18.2019 ; as usual just talking points with no real answers:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

The following is an email that I sent to Governor Mills on 1.30.2019:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.19.2024 – PPH Letter to the Editor:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.18.2024 – Saving a farm in Maine – what about Smiling Hill Farm??

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.12.2024 – A PPH Letter to the Editor:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.10.2024 – A Letter to the Editor of the PPH concerning Smiling Hill Farm:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.09.2024 – If you would like to help Smiling Hill Farm – here’s your chance:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.03.2024 – A Portland Press Herald article. Do  we really need to ask why Maine’s dairy farms are dwindling? Maybe we can have the governor ask her brother…

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

4.03.2024 – Another Letter to the Editor on the Gorham Connector:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.30.2024 – A snarky Letter to the Editor – pros and cons and NIMBY accusations:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.30.2024 – How can one reconcile a program to protect farm land from development at the same time that farmland in the area is being threatened by eminent domain?

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.29.2024 – Gorham Connector Public Hearing #1 held on 3.25.2024:

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.29.2024 – Support Smiling Hill Farm – Maine cannot lose another dairy farm!!

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.28.2024 – Portland Press Herald Oped posted today:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.27.2024 – Bike Coalition of Maine weighs in on the Gorham Connector:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.27.2024 – Latest article in the Portland Press Herald:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.27.2024 – This was dismissed by the panel at the Gorham Connector public meeting:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.27.2024 – Is the Gorham Connector a boondoggle?  StreetsBLOGUSA thinks so:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.27.2024 – An OPED that appeared in the Portland Press Herald on Feb. 27, 2024:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.26.2024 – Comment from below article in the Portland Press Herald:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.26.2024 – Public Meeting in Gorham with 109 comments from the Portland Herald.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Comments to the Gorham Connector Public Meeting held on March 25th:

First, I would say that the off-site presentation was less than under-whelming, limited to prepared screen shots with no live video that would capture the expressions of the panel and the speakers.

Although our community was included from the start of the I-395/Route 9 Connector study, unlike what has just occurred in Gorham, it was very familiar.

Several of the panel members spoke condescendingly to summarily dismiss almost every comment and concern of each speaker you dared to voice their opposition.

The MTA has all the answers and don’t express concern over their data when challenged, because – simply – it is their data. Our community also questioned the traffic data presented and the fact that it was too old to depend on.

When you deal with transportation people, you must remember, all they know what to do is build roads; you can’t expect these people to consider anything else than the alternative that they presented last night. They tried to go headfirst into why they are “attacking” the Smiling Hills Farm and that fell flat on its face.

Several people voiced concerns over the environment and the native trout. What people don’t realize is that, the whole purpose of an environmental impact statement is to advise the public of the final impact of the project, not to necessarily stop the project.

Environmental officials, state or federal, will not save the farm. In Brewer, the connector project goes right through an area cleared marked as I-395 PROTECTED WETLANDS on official State of Maine maps used by the MaineDOT, which I contend is prior mitigation.

Several times, the audience was told that this is just the initial engineering, as if change can be or will be made; our experience shows that any change will be minor and no change will be made to favor the human element. The human element does not matter because they should be happy to support the project by losing their property to eminent domain as  non-impacted people point to them and call them NIMBYs.

If you didn’t know better, it looked at the end that the people supporting Smiling Hill Farm won the day and the MTA would quickly withdraw; but that is not what will happen.

A comment was made that changes to save the farm would not be made unless local officials get behind the opposition. We had our city elected officials behind us; they issued 3 unanimous resolutions of non-support of the selection of 2B-2 as the preferred alternative for the I-395/Route 9 Connector. Those three resolutions went unanswered by the DOT and we suspect that the MTA will act the same.

We also submitted a petition against the I-395/Route 9 Connector – like the resolutions, the DOT ignored it.

I have operated this website since 2014, but have been involved in public participation since the year 2000 and became actively involved at the end of 2011. Even though we lost the battle, I have kept the site going as an advisory to those who may be interested in the progress of the construction and to blacken DOT’s eyes every time I get the chance. I started adding the Gorham Connector information as a way to retell our story as they sure are similar.

At some point, even though the Gorham Connector is a MTA project, the DOT will get involved and inform your town’s elected officials that if the town’s opposition is not quelled, funds will be cut off for future projects in the area.

Sadly, that’s been our experience.

Again, I wish Mr. Knight and his family well…

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.25.2024 – Pre-public meeting anti-Gorham Connector sentiment:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

 

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.25.2024 – A Technical Memorandum dated January 2024. As I have said in previous posts, our experience, when a project gets to the point when they are “proudly” showing it off to the public, it is far too late for private citizens to have their concerns addressed and make changes to the project.

However, a change was covertly made to the I-395/Route 9 Connector routing, sometime between the June 2016 Record of Decision and the November 2021 construction bidding package to remove the planned eastbound Route 1A turning lane that encroached upon the Eastern Maine Health Care parking lot. Obviously, to satisfy the largest employer in the area, that change necessitated the addition of the “jughandle” adjacent to Lowe’s that also utilizes Lowe’s exit ramp to turn eastbound on Route 1A towards Ellsworth.

 

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.25.2024 – A News Center Maine report on the Smiling Hill Farms aired on Feb. 23rd:

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.25.2024 – Bangor Daily News article on the Gorham Connector. Smiling Hill Farms is refusing to sell the land that the MTA needs for their project.  The Knight family may lose 45 acres to eminent domain and the MTA will not lose a night of sleep. Mr. Mills already admitted to using eminent domain at least once so far to support his project.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.24.2024 – Letter to the Editor in the Portland Press Herald with 26 comments:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.23.2024 – A commentary on the Gorham Connector; is it a boondoggle?

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.21.2024 – Latest articles from the Portland Press Herald on the Gorham Connector:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

I wonder how much, if any, public involvement was sought since the study started in 2017. Is this a questionable routing for this project, much as the controversial selection of 2B-2 as the preferred alternative for the I-395/Route 9 Connector was such a surprise for the community of Brewer? Mr. Knight seems truly surprised at the level of damage this connector will do to his property.

People will go to next week’s meeting thinking that their comments and concerns will be listened to – they won’t. This is a done deal and eminent domain gives Mr. Mills the power to do so. What support will Mr. Knight get from the public? Some will claim he’s a NIMBY, some of those will live on a competing alternative and some of those value their quality of life while diminishing others. It’s easy to point fingers when you aren’t the one losing your property.

Mills told the American Journal, “It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” What a clueless statement to make! Been there, done that; allow the people to think they are actually being listened to and then summarily dismiss them without further explanation. Eminent domain allows Mr. Mills to do just that, no matter how it affects the landowner. I wish Mr. Knight well…

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.03.2024 – Another article concerning the Gorham Connector:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Comments on this article:

“Out of the approximately 50 landowners who would be impacted by the proposed Gorham Connector, 35 are in Scarborough…The turnpike authority has secured the rights to one-third of the Scarborough properties and another third are in negotiations. The remaining properties would involve small easements, such as taking slivers of front lawns or backyards.”

Does that mean 12 lucky homeowners are expected to be happy to lose “slivers of front years or backyards” and have a highway whizzing past their property? Those “slivers” will obviously affect the monetary value of one’s property and the eminent domain offer for those “slivers” may not offset that loss. Mr. Mills seems almost giddy that losing “slivers” of one’s property should be acceptable.

And the 12 properties currently in negotiations, I would add that if you don’t take their offer, eminent domain kicks in; doesn’t seem a fair way to negotiate, take the deal or see you in court and don’t show up without lawyering-up…

No mention to the disposition of the 15 landowners not residing in Scarborough…

“The turnpike authority is working with the Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and other entities and to conduct mitigation efforts, he said.”

“Alternative 2B was dismissed at PAC Meeting #11 on February 20, 2002 because MDOT and FHWA thought, as a condition of the Record of Decision, or the Section 404 permit, or both, for the existing section of I-395, additional impacts to Felts Brook would not be permitted and therefore this alternative was not ‘practicable’ under the law.” (October 2003 Memorandum)

“At the fourth interagency meeting on March 12, 2002, the agencies stated that the permit for the existing section of I-395 was not conditioned to prevent further impacts to Felts Brook, and that Alternative 2B should be considered practicable under the law and should continue to be evaluated.” (October 2003 Memorandum)

The “Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Department of Environmental Protection and other entities”, tasked as fundamental protectors of the environment with project sign-off authority on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), failed “to ensure they keep the impact on wetlands as low as possible” by signing-off on a project sanctioning the MaineDOT to ram right thru wetlands, identified on State of Maine maps as “I-395 PROTECTED WETLANDS”, north and south of the intersection of the original I-395 extension and Wilson Street/Route 1A in Brewer.

Every action should have been exhausted when the MaineDOT asserted that they couldn’t find written evidence that the “I-395 PROTECTED WETLANDS” designation was accurate on the official map that the MaineDOT used then and still uses now for mapping their projects statewide.

I would submit that it would take “an act of Congress” to place that kind of designation on an official state of Maine map in the first place and I would also submit that, the existence of the map alone, even without documentation in the deeds in property that the state of Maine already owned, should have been enough to forever keep 2B from consideration.

Was the “I-395 PROTECTED WETLANDS” ignored simply because someone didn’t correctly document the mitigation 40+ years ago? That can be the only logical reason that the State maps ended up with said designation in Brewer.

This should prove to all, that in the end, the environment really doesn’t matter.

Alternative 2B was once again officially removed from consideration at the January 15, 2003 PAC meeting for safety reasons and the fact that it didn’t meet purpose and needs.

The May 13, 2003 interagency meeting, a combination of state and federal agencies, selected alternative 3EIK-2 and no-build for further study, as would be further documented in the “Technical Memorandum and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Highway Methodology Phase I Submission” dated October 2003, and signed off by the MaineDOT, the FHWA and the ACOE.

The local Army Corp of Engineers manager was instrumental in the resurrection of alternative 2B once again in September 2003, working with a contingent of Holden anti-3EIK-2 folks, without buy-in from the MaineDOT and FHWA project managers.

Why the ACOE enabled 2B (resurrected as 2B-2) to be placed back in consideration, even before the ink dried on a document that identified why 2B was removed from further consideration, a document that also accepted 3EIK-2 as the presumptive preferred alternative, was highly questionable.

In my opinion the local ACOE manager should have recused himself from the permitting process after demanding 2B-2 be put back in play outside of the normal MaineDOT/FHWA and PAC process.

“One of the things we might wind up doing is offering up, as part of the mitigation, a fair amount of ground (for preservation) of existing wetlands and open land,” Mills said. “There is some significant, very interesting open land in this region that actually deserves to be preserved and kept.”

Again, good luck with that. Not only did the I-395/Route 9 Connector go through what I contend is the previous environmental mitigation for the I-395 extension in the early 80’s, the mitigation for encroaching upon these identified wetlands for the new project did not stay in Brewer, it was transferred to an area in Holden that I believe was part of the original 3EIK-2 alternative. Many in Brewer felt that as a slap in the face as Holden was the least impacted community by 2B-2.

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

3.01.2024 – a recent article from the Portland Press Herald:

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

Why is the Gorham Connector project so important to post to this website?

After living through the I-395/Route 9 connector study/project for the past 24 years, there are similarities these two projects share and our hard-learned experiences can predict what those who oppose the Gorham Connector project will endure.

According to this article, Red Brook has one of the last populations of native brook trout in the state of Maine; we had salmon in both Eaton Brook and Felts Brook. Interestingly, the gentleman that did the majority of the salmon research in our study area left his position following the survey and his field notes went missing forcing another survey by possibly less qualified individuals.

“The road itself will also contribute oil, salt and other runoff to the river, polluting the water.” We share this concern as the I-395/Route 9 connector crosses Felts Brook and Eaton Brook at several locations and transits through several previously identified wetlands.

Many years ago, Felts Brook was identified as Brewer’s priority watershed as it encompasses 50% of Brewer’s landmass. The water quality of Felts Brook is designated as Class-B, suitable as a habitat for fish and aquatic life and also as a drinking water supply following treatment. The City of Brewer advised the Army Corp of Engineers in July of 2021 that “We also think that the City of Brewer should not bear the financial burden of restoring the water quality of Felts Brook if the construction of the I-395 extension causes it to be impaired.”

According to this article, a public meeting will be scheduled in March to discuss the Gorham Connector project. We endured 9 years of such public participation during the I-395/Route 9 Connector Study, a study that many thought had ended following what would become the last Public Advisory Committee meeting on April 9 of 2009. At that time, 2B-2 met only 20% of the Purpose and Needs and the 3EIK-2 alternative was the MaineDOT/FHWA preferred alternative.

Common thought was the study was going nowhere because of the lack of funding resources and annual budgetary shortfalls in the MaineDOT’s Roads and Bridges program as high as $360 million by the end of 2010. No mention was made of any progress in the study since the April 2009 PAC meeting, nor were any future public meetings scheduled.

We would discover, purely by accident in mid-December 2011, 32 months since the last PAC meeting, that state and federal officials covertly continued their work, exhibiting a complete lack of transparency; we were shocked to find that an alternative that met only 20% of the Study Purpose and Needs (2B-2), that directly affected the Brewer community, was now the preferred alternative. Was this lack of transparency a lapse in judgement by MaineDOT officials or was it intentional because they knew what the pushback would be by selecting an alternative that had been removed from consideration several times previously and did not meet purpose and needs?

Unknown to us at the time, December of 2011 found the study in chaos when the FHWA project manager advised his counterpart, the MaineDOT program manager, that 2B-2 did not meet purpose and needs; this of course was not what the MaineDOT wanted to hear as their minds were already made up, and in the end the FHWA project manager was silenced. None of this was made public until the FOAA of March 2012 as requested by the town of Eddington. All of this story and the applicable FOAA documents can be found on this website.

The MaineDOT issued an apology for their lack of transparency over that 32-month period in the Bangor Daily News on January 6, 2012: “The Maine Department of Transportation…regrets the insufficient outreach by MaineDOT to leaders of the affected communities along the proposed I-395 US Route 9 connecter [sic],” the statement read. “Town officials and the residents of Brewer, Holden, Eddington and Clifton deserve to be fully informed of all decisions and progress. We recognize that it is our obligation to do so, and we will rectify this situation in the future.”

That being said, the MaineDOT continued to promote 2B-2, an alternative that both the MaineDOT and the FHWA had both previously said would not satisfy the study purpose, the system linkage need or the traffic congestion need.

We had been told by the MaineDOT, throughout the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process, from the draft to the final version, that our comments and concerns would be fully addressed, yet our comments and concerns were summarily discarded. The Brewer City Council issued at least 3 different resolutions of non-support, along with similar resolutions from Eddington and Holden.

I feel sorry for those who will be impacted by the  Gorham Connector; I feel sorry for the people that will go to public meetings thinking they have real input to the process, hoping to minimize the impact to their community; I feel sorry to those that will lose properties to eminent domain.

You can refuse the monetary offer during eminent domain, but if you do, you are immediately told that the next step would be in court and you have to come lawyered-up. And, what people don’t realize is that the MaineDOT, and presumably the Turnpike Authority, is only interested in obtaining a “footprint” for the project and may not necessarily purchase your whole property.

Some properties may be left land-locked, as in our area where several land owners have lost access to what is left of their properties bisected by this project. One couple in Eddington lost their house, horse corrals, swimming pool and a few acres of land to eminent domain, and was left with the barn, the tennis court and acres of land on the wrong side of the connector, with no access, rendering what is left as useless.

In Brewer, the new connector transits an area of “I-395 PROTECTED WETLANDS” as clearly documented on official state maps, first noted in early 2012 that still exist today, only to be denied by the MaineDOT. I have said, since discovering this map, that this must have been the environmental mitigation from the original I-395 construction decades ago, the MaineDOT disagreed. The same map is still being used in 2024 by the MaineDOT and the area around the intersection of I-395 and Wilson Street is still designated as “I-395 PROTECTED WETLANDS”.

Vernal pools became an issue towards the end of our study, yet the vernal pool survey was done by different individuals in Holden (3EIK-2 alternative) than those that did the survey in Brewer (2B-2 alternative), leading many to question the validity of the findings. Even the Federal EPA representative thought the results were unusual and was surprised that the Brewer alternative had so few vernal pools when compared to the Holden alternative.

Did the MaineDOT keep us advised as promised in January 2012? Not so much…

I’m not sure how many people are aware of the jughandle that has been constructed adjacent to the Lowe’s entrance on Wilson Street. The jughandle tees onto Lowe’s access road to Wilson Street, allowing traffic exiting the new connector to reverse direction and go eastbound towards Ellsworth and Calais. This reverse direction design was not part of the January 2015 Final Environmental Impact Statement or the June 2016 Record of Decision and only deemed necessary when the original design, encroaching upon the Northern Lite Cancer Care parking lot, was apparently dropped. We only learned about the design change when the bidding packages were sent out towards the end of 2021.

I predict this jughandle, a design extremely rare in our state, will become an embarrassment to the MaineDOT and will cause unnecessary traffic issues in an area that already has congestion issues in the summer months. If locals can’t figure out that merge signs on the highway don’t mean STOP, seeing them use this jughandle should be comical.

No matter how strong you think your case may be, it is really true that you can’t fight “city hall”. Don’t buy into the public participation process; they will ask for your input because state regulations require it and they will then ignore any input that doesn’t promote their end result.

In the end, salmon and trout don’t matter, wetlands don’t matter, nor apparently anything else in the environment.

Opponents to the Gorham Connector will be strung along until, without fanfare, the Turnpike Authority and the State of Maine will do exactly what they want, no matter the concerns of the community and their elected officials.

That has been our experience…

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)

2.18.2024 – Interesting article on a future project in Gorham. Much of the same was once said with the connector now being built in Brewer’s backyard. There will be meetings, only because by law they have to involve the public in the decisions; eminent domain will be used as it was on this project where the DOT took at least 8 homes and left several plots of land without access. In the end, the Gorham project will be built no matter what the cost to homeowners and the environment and no matter what the public says because the state doesn’t care what the public says  – just like this connector.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

 

“It’s an emotional issue. We don’t need to settle this with them right away.” A condescending statement by MTA Peter Mills (PPH 3.21.2024)