Notes I took from that meeting:
* John Graham, advocate
* Kara Wilbur, Build Maine chair
* Jared Ruehr, PBPAC
* John Clark, PBPAC, Chair
* Derek Peletier, PBPAC
* Angela King, Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Pownal resident
* Laura Sodano, Smiling Hill Farm
* John Brooking, WSMAC, Westbrook resident
Kara proposes a 3-prong strategy for opposition:
1) Someone gathering information, including using FOIA requests.
2) "Hearts & minds" campaign, raising awareness among the public.
3) Via legislation in 2023 session
John Graham is involved in a bridge project which has been going on for
years. He is familiar with FOIA (Freedom Of Information Access) requests,
and the steps needed. He notes that the MTA (Maine Turnpike Authority) has
not yet done the environmental study (EA), which is required to produce a
document that the public can comment on. Takes a lot of time. Not sure if
they've even started. No official word about that.
Also need to get 3-7 permits.
So how soon is this happening? Perhaps as long as 3-5 years, due to all the
John G feels that often, in a FOIA process, a lot of times you find out if
people have been lazy about completing things in order to check off boxes.
Another dimension is history preservation, if views are changed.
Angela King points out that a town's comprehensive plans can be leveraged
to influence the decision as well as the design.
Question: What are the other options?
Derek: One prior option considered and discarded was widening existing
roads. Would also be very expensive, and the spur would be a toll road,
There is an "alternatives analysis", which addressed that option, and also
I asked Kara about Mills' assertion that induced demand will not be such a
problem on this spur because it's a "point to point" road, no other exits.
She points out one big reason that that's not true, that giving people a
faster way to get between those points extends the possibility of what
range is possible between home and work, which again induces more demand.
So another talking point is for towns beyond Gorham, they're going to find
themselves in the same situation in 10 years.
John Graham recommends forming a non-profit. Needs to consider money
needed, and where that will come from. Ideally, there would be people
involved who are willing to donate a bit each. Identify them soon.
Kara is also one of the people behind the Facebook page.
Point: Are they going to use federal money? If not, a reason might be to
avoid jumping through the hoops. One big hoop is showing why this solution
is really going to solve the problem (congestion).
Study group is going to be started.
John G. also recommends public reachout begin ASAP, and that's something
Smiling Hill Farm can do. Laura will do that.
Kara will send along information she has gotten from some other people in
the affected towns.
April 7th, 4 PM: GrowSmart Maine panel discussion on this topic.
Derek will reconvene this group in a few weeks.
Cyclist, Cycling Educator, Technologist
On Wed, Mar 30, 2022 at 12:50 PM John Brooking <johnbrooking4@xxxxxxxxx>
I mentioned in our meeting on Monday that some groups are gathering in
opposition to the Gorham Spur project, on the grounds that the harm to the
environment and the enabling of further sprawl is a greater concern than
the questionable benefit of reducing congestion (due to induced demand
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induced_demand>). There is also the
question of if a better solution would be to improve transit and housing
density in the affected area. I don't have enough planning knowledge to
have a good handle on these issues, but if you would like to learn more,
there is an online meeting *tonight* of people from various groups,
including the Portland Bike/Ped Advisory Committee.
I think anyone is welcome to join the meeting, but it's on Google Groups
instead of Zoom, so I'm not sure how that will work. Hope it does. I'll let
you know if I hear anything more about how to use that, in case just
following the link below doesn't work.
Meeting link: https://meet.google.com/oxt-togb-smg
Cyclist, Cycling Educator, Technologist
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: George Rheault <george.rheault@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, Mar 30, 2022 at 9:04 AM
Subject: Re: Gorham Spur
To: Ben Grant <bgrant@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Cc: Andy Schmidt <andyschm@xxxxxxxxx>, Kara Wilbur <karawilbur@xxxxxxxxx>,
Angela King <angela@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Derek Pelletier <dpellet@xxxxxxxxx>,
Winston Lumpkins <winston.lumpkins@xxxxxxxxx>, John Clark <
jmclark995@xxxxxxxxx>, dave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx <dave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
John Graham <John@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, jared.ruehr@xxxxxxxxx <
jared.ruehr@xxxxxxxxx>, johnbrooking4@xxxxxxxxx <johnbrooking4@xxxxxxxxx>,
I am unlikely to be able to participate in tonight's call, but thanks to
you all for engaging on this and I look forward to any post-call feedback.
Conservation Law Foundation should be contacted as they must be following
this (they sat on their hands for the Turnpike widening project (between
Exits 44 and 52) that has been progressing and which could have gone very
differently (bridge replacements were justified but more lanes were not):
Turnpike Authority - Portland Area Widening & Safety Improvements Overview
CLF does NEPA-type stuff all the time so they should be able to give quick
guidance on what it takes to force a full impact study. Honestly, I am not
that interested in making the Gorham Connector even MORE expensive if the
powers-that-be refuse to admit it is a bad idea. But I totally agree that
demanding a full impact study is the right tactical move to get everyone's
It is appalling that Peter Mills and the MTA are just throwing up their
hands on decades of bad land-use policy and telling our region that we
simply must double-down on that legacy for another 50+ years rather than
working hard to reverse trends that had their roots in the 1930s/1940s when
climate change was not even on the radar and leaded gasoline was gearing up
to poison several generations of Americans.
This whole debate is structural and it would be great if our legislature
would understand that. MTA is super-charged to single-mindedly collect
revenue from tolls and spend it on roads - that is their deal with
bond-holders. What the Maine Legislature needs to do is give the MTA the
same flexibility to invest in mass transit and regional planning as it does
with asphalt and road-beds. This will spook the bond-holders unless proper
assurances are given (a knotty problem but one that can be solved), but we
cannot allow the turnpike authority's crude auto-centric legal basis
created in the 1940s to continue to wag the dog in 2022.
We also need the Legislature to discuss revenue-sharing and real regional
planning. Shut down GPCOG (which is accountable to no one, really does
nothing and has no requirement to accomplish anything) and allow places
like Westbrook and Gorham to get revenue from other parts of the region to
make up for shutting down bad development that relies upon sprawl and
things like the Gorham Connector to succeed. Most of the big apartment
complexes approved in the region in the last decade or so are all
auto-centric and simply dump lots more congestion into the road network
without any meaningful contributions to mass transit or other
If more intense development is allowed in Greater Portland's CORE
(Basically Portland/SoPo and anything else close to the existing Turnpike),
then adding more pressure to the Gorham/Westbrook corridor won't happen as
quickly. But the bedroom towns do not want to lose the opportunity to grow
by being disadvantaged on the infrastructure front - they are being forced
to champion the Gorham Connector because nothing else is on the table.
Bottom line, we have to think like a real region and stop pitting towns
against one another which only leads to everyone being suffocated by
congestion and sprawl pushed here and there by affluent NIMBYism (which
includes all the land conservation efforts which are just thinly disguised
buffers against development that just makes sprawl worse).
On Mon, Mar 28, 2022 at 7:27 PM Ben Grant <bgrant@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Andy - I can help you with the EPA stuff. Email me or text me offline.
*From:* Andy Schmidt <andyschm@xxxxxxxxx>
*Sent:* Monday, March 28, 2022 10:41 AM
*To:* Kara Wilbur <karawilbur@xxxxxxxxx>
*Cc:* Angela King <angela@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>; Derek Pelletier <
dpellet@xxxxxxxxx>; George Rheault <george.rheault@xxxxxxxxx>; Winston
Lumpkins <winston.lumpkins@xxxxxxxxx>; John Clark <jmclark995@xxxxxxxxx>;
dave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx; Ben Grant <bgrant@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>; John
Graham <John@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>; jared.ruehr@xxxxxxxxx;
*Subject:* Re: Gorham Spur
Also I have some important intelligence from the toll road's meeting with
the Metro folks. At some point soon they are going to try to get a waiver
of the need to do an environmental impact statement from the US EPA. This
is one of our best chances to stop this because the Biden admin should not
be inclined to allow a 70s style highway project. Does anyone have
connections at regional EPA?
Apparently they used a lot of smart growth type jargon, which is like a
bad joke. We need to make sure the SmartGrowth Maine people get this.
On Mon, Mar 28, 2022 at 10:17 AM Kara Wilbur <karawilbur@xxxxxxxxx>
I’m circling everyone up who has expressed an interest in the Gorham
Connector, aka Divider effort.
There are a number of needs we have discussed on prior calls with a
smaller group, which I would put into two categories:
1. Legal, research, investigation
2. Public relations campaign
3. Legislative strategy
1. On the first item, what I understand is that there is a need for
someone who can dig into records, read every document, and identify issues
with how the project is being permitted and funded. This involves FOIA
requests. If anyone has time and ability to do this kind of work, they
should connect directly with John Graham, who is on this email. He can
explain what needs to be done.
2. The second item seems to be related to the campaign and
communications. I think many of you are already doing this by attending
meetings and speaking. There will be a forum on this topic held by
GrowSmart Maine in the next few weeks, which is another opportunity. To
really understand the bigger picture of how and when to coordinate
messaging around the project, it will help to know what the permitting
schedule is, which no one seems to know, and hence why task 1 is very
important. Unless that was explained on the recent information session
with Peter Mills?
3. There may be an opportunity to address this project and other roadway
expansion projects via legislation submitted during the 2023 session. Now
is the time to figure this out. Would be helpful if someone has time to
research precedent from other states to see what might be possible.
If people want to schedule a zoom to talk, Angela, maybe you could
On Mar 28, 2022, at 9:41 AM, Angela King <angela@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Pulling you all together since I just learned from Kara that there is a
FB group opposed to the spur: Stop the Gorham Divider. Thanks Kara – good
Also, what Peter Mills avoided mentioning at the Metro board meeting was
the cost of the spur. In 2017, when LD 905 passed, they said the cost would
be $100 million. Now 5 years later we are at $240 million.
GPCOG has already indicated that an investment in rapid transit would be
cheaper. Their rapid transit study for Maine is just getting started, but
from Chris Chopp's presentation, they have already done a lot of research.
As you all know, there have been many studies in Maine on transportation
that were never followed up on. I'll attach one from 2010, and one someone
just sent me, a research proposal by Mainewatch Institute, a group that
no longer exists. The person who sent it to me actually used to work
for MDOT, and he found the history and policy issues interesting and things
that should still be looked at.
So this information and ideas for solutions have been out there for
years, and now in 2022 building another highway is being considered?
[image: Image removed by sender.]
On Sat, Mar 26, 2022 at 8:17 AM Kara Wilbur <karawilbur@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Also, just realized another person from PBPAC emailed. If you all can
share the two other names and emails, I’ll send out a larger group email.
On Mar 25, 2022, at 3:55 PM, Angela King <angela@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
In a meeting today with Moving Maine, Zoe Miller mentioned to me that she
thinks you are opposed to the Spur. This came up because I mentioned that I
was at the Metro board meeting last night, where four of us (me and three
Portland residents I know through PBPAC) made comments that this is not a
solution to traffic congestion after Peter Mills gave a talk about it.
We plan to reach out to other groups about opposing the spur, ones that
might be impactful since the four of us are just speaking as individuals,
not representing any group. Do you have contacts in Gorham and
Scarborough, or any town that will be affected by this highway?
I plan to email a couple Gorham councilors who expressed concern
about the spur, but "understand that it's needed." They need some
education <https://t4america.org/maps-tools/congestion-con/>on this:)
There is so much research and history proving that when you build it they
will drive more.
Thanks, hope all is well!
[image: Image removed by sender.]
<2010 Improving Maine's Quality of Place through Integrated Bicycle and
Pedestrian Connections.pdf><Mainewatch Institute_Trans Tax