The bulk of the tourists have left for the season, yet huge volumes of commercial and local traffic remain, still confronted by tortured roads in Ellsworth. Regular users of Oak Street, Water Street and other roads in Ellsworth grit their teeth and shudder in their vehicles as they traverse the broken surfaces on these major thoroughfares. Vehicles weave around the broken tarmac, often unsafely, to avoid the worst holes and bumps. Trucks and trailers bound down the road, rocking from side to side precariously.
Years ago, Ellsworth made a big deal about acquiring a super-duper pothole-patching machine that would remedy such imperfections. The evidence would suggest that it is no longer employed in the battle against deteriorating roads. Or, perception too often being reality, transportation officials — local or MDOT, drivers don’t care which — are indifferent or inept about the local street surface conditions, unable to muster adequate resources to fix obvious maladies. Perhaps not an accurate perspective, however, what are drivers to perceive? These roads are still a mess, with no resolution in sight. Every driver can point to similar situations in many towns in Maine.
Sure, money will be the explanation — there’s just never enough. Yet, one could ask if the transportation priorities and emphasis are properly aligned — are existing monies being spent on core projects first, before other wants are addressed? If you are facing expensive repairs on your own vehicle, from just your everyday commute, your answer as the taxpayer will be different from the people that administer your hard-earned monies.
It is October now, after many seasons of declining driving surfaces on the aforementioned streets. Winter will soon arrive, bringing potholes that grow with each storm, each rain event. Driver distress will increase, while repair crews will be confronted with repeated and regular patching efforts under trying circumstances to address dangerous repairs. If your home had a leaking roof, how many times would you climb up and make bubble-gum repairs before you would properly repair the roof and protect your investment inside?
Is it asking too much to expect that public works/transportation departments — local or MDOT, doesn’t matter — to make the same concerted effort to properly manage the surfaces that the entire economy, tourist, residents and commercial traffic included, must use?