Through eminent domain, I believe the Maine Turnpike Authority has stolen 265 acres of land in West Gardiner to build a service area at the intersection of I-95 and I-295.

A report by the MTA told the Federal Highway Administration that this service area was needed to fill a gap. Why is this area being built with taxpayer money instead of by private industry? With the services offered in Brunswick, Topsham, Lewiston, Auburn, and Augusta, can’t we drive 30 miles without stopping for coffee, a burger or high-priced gasoline?

A trip/highway report released on Sept. 5 shows Maine faces a 10-year, $2.2 billion highway need. It listed the 25 most deteriorated highways and 30 most deteriorated bridges in the state. How much highway improvement could we get with the $11 million the MTA wants to put into potentially building a Starbucks?

Money over and above operating costs of the MTA is required, by law, to go into Maine’s general fund. Lawmakers and Gov. John Baldacci are always getting into taxpayer pockets. Why is the MTA allowed to operate with so much irresponsibility and unaccountability to the Maine taxpayers?

If the governor really wants to find $10 million in savings, he should look to the MTA and stop this unneeded project. But I believe the governor wants to lease the Turnpike out to private business after the $11 million is gone.

Walt McCarty, Litchfield

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