On June 11th, you have a chance to vote for something that will save money, save lives, and save our history.
A $1.7 million bond is needed to repair and restore the 1848 Stackpole Creek Bridge off Simpson Road in Saco. The bridge has been need of structural repairs for many years now. City engineers recently closed the bridge until repairs are made citing structural weakness if any significant weight is put on it. Like we’ve seen most recently in Washington state and in Minnesota, thousands of U.S. bridges are at high risk of collapse and in need of repair or replacement.
While the Stackpole Bridge might only be used by hundreds of people each year, those lives are just as important as if we were talking about the Casco Bay Bridge in Portland. The public safety of every single member of this community should be taken into account when formulating public policy and in financial decision making. Right now public safety officials and vehicles cannot easily get to Saco residents on the other side of the bridge. Imagine if you were one of those Saco residents who pays taxes and expects some level of security in knowing services such as fire and police can be there on a moments notice. The City of Saco cannot just abandon a bridge or a road for that matter.
Aside from the public safety issue, there is a great fiscal argument to be made for a yes vote on the bond question. While $1.7 million in any economy can seem like a lot of money, I would argue in the long term $1.7 million will pay off more than a short term initially cheaper version. The cost effectiveness lies within the long term savings of the maximized lifespan of the stone bridge will outlast a simple concrete one. Do we want to be right back here in many years from now paying for the same bridge twice? This drystone bridge has been around since 1848 and stood the test of the time up until this point. If this bond is passed, work can be done to preserve this great Saco craftsmanship while maintaining modern regulatory standards.
A potential payback for this investment in our aging infrastructure, is the opportunity to work with our neighbors in North Saco to turn the sides of this rural gem into a park. This bridge, which is the oldest drystone bridge in the state, qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places. Aside from a strong connection to Saco’s own history when the bridge was used by farmers who helped provide food for millworkers on both sides of the Saco River, this can be small attraction for residents and tourists alike.
A yes vote on the Stackpole Bridge bond will save money, save lives, and save our history. This is a win-win for our community and I urge you to vote YES on June 11th over at the Community Center on Franklin Street between 7am and 8pm.
For more information on the bridge history, bond, and letters of support, you can visit the Friends of Stackpole Bridge website at www.stackpolebridge.org.
Beyond the Headlines
Weekly Column featured in The Biddeford-Saco-OOB Courier Newspaper by Rep. Justin Chenette of Saco