Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Midcoast Maine Expansion! Is it for Everyone?

A recent interview in the free press with the the guy who is in charge of the Knox County Airport leads one to believe that the new multi-million dollar taxiway expansion is just the tip of the iceberg. We all remember when the airport logged to either side and to one end of the runway. The reason given then was that the clear cutting was for safety reasons. They needed to make it safer for planes taking-off and landing by improving visibility from the air and ground, a sensible course of action as Knox Airport doesn't have a tower.

The reasons given for the current expansion are also for safety. The airport says it needs a taxiway that can handle the larger planes, private jets mostly, that are now making Knox County a destination. They also don't want these planes using the runway as their sole means of taxiing back to the apron in front of the terminal. They say this is a safety issue. I see it for what it is, a traffic issue. Obviously, the runway is beefy enough to handle the larger planes. But if you want to land another plane, one right after another, you need a taxiway.

I remember what they told us when they logged around the airport. They said this was not going to increase traffic or open the door for future expansion. In fact, that was a lie. The logging did both, and I suspect the new taxiway will increase traffic even more.

If anybody thinks putting in a new taxiway is going to improve safety and at the same time help reduce traffic and noise, they're sadly mistaken. Please give me one example anywhere in the world where more asphalt has reduced traffic.

The big problem with the current rate of expansion here in the mid coast area is that it is not for everyone. It seems to be solely for the benefit of the few.

I'm not against progress, but I want to know what my home will look like 20 years from now, and I don't think that's too much to ask. In my opinion, the state and municipality are in the business of satisfying the needs of the rich and paying off the poor with entitlements. The middle class is left with the short end of the stick.

Which brings to mind the state's ferry service, through which I am now part-time employed. Of all the ferries, only one, the Islesboro ferry, comes close to breaking even. All the others, Vinalhaven, Northhaven, Swans Island might as well be 100% subsidized. You tax dollars at work. The numbers would scare you. Fuel expenses alone are astronomical.

So I ask you: Why do the 1500 or so people on the islands get a subsidized transportation system but not the 25,000 people on the mainland who can't afford gas for their cars? Shouldn't we also have a subsidized bus service?

And that's where I am with the airport issue. Where is it going? And why are so few people benefiting from it?

This state and our federal government need to fund programs that help everyone in one way or another, not just a select few.


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