We have new wall murals in New Auburn and they are even lighted.
We have cleaned up the tattoo parlor, radiator shop and abandoned bar that once greeted visitors entering Lewiston via the Longley Bridge. Now there's a water fountain at that intersection.
The Lisbon Street entrance to Lewiston was remarkably transformed several years ago when old buildings were torn down and new ones built in their place.
Downtown Auburn was rebuilt a decade ago with a park, hotel, parking garage and municipal building.
The most visible Twin City eyesore is now the section of combined routes 4 and 202 between the Washington Street rotary and Court Street, where tens of thousands of travelers each day pass a series of rundown, abandoned or poorly maintained buildings.
Bluntly, that strip looks like hell.
There are a few notable exceptions. The Mechanics Savings Bank building stands in stark contrast to its seedy surroundings, as does the Agren Appliance building.
The former Jimmy's Supper Club and a couple of abandoned gas stations are at the epicenter of this urban blight, as is a large white building that looks like it hasn't seen a coat of paint in 30 years.
Weeds grow up between some of the buildings and their foundations, and weathered plywood covers a gas station window with the ironic sticker that says "We Care."
In fact, the message this section of highway sends is just the opposite, that we don't care.
And make no mistake, this highway probably carries more outside visitors than any other in the Twin Cities.
It is the lifeline to the recreational areas in Franklin and Northern Oxford counties. There are also the thousands of people coming and going at Bates College and the hospitals in town.
While our community slogan is "It's Happening Here," this roadway screams "We're Dying here."
It's that bad.
We have a new Auburn City Council and a new, energetic mayor. Soon we will have a new city manager. This would be a great time to explore what can be done to improve this area.
Perhaps there are tax and grant incentives available for improving these properties. If not, can we apply existing codes to force owners to clean up their buildings or tear them down?
This is the first impression people get of our community. We must do better.
The opinions expressed in this column represent the views of the ownership and editorial board.