Sebago Lakes Region Summer Calender

June 12th, 2013

Saturday, June 8: The Lumber River Quartet, a southern Gospel group from North Carolina, is returning to the Bible Believing Baptist Church, 92 Center Road in Gray, at 7 p.m. There is no charge, but a free-will offering will be received. They will also perform at the Sunday morning service at 10:30 a.m. on June 9. All welcome.
CCFCU: Money Market: 250×250: LRW: 120705-131231 Windham Econ Dev: … has it: 250×250: LRW: 120103-131231 Maine Weddings: 250×250: ROS: per Jen

June 8: Annual Plant and Bake Sale at the Raymond Village Library from 7-11 a.m. Come early for best selections. Many types of both annuals and perennials from which to choose, at amazingly low prices. For more information, call 655-5217.

Sunday, June 9: Hundreds of participants will compete in a triathlon race called the Pirate Tri beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Point Sebago Resort. Cyclists will follow a marked course in the surrounding community on Point Sebago Road, Route 302, Tenney Hill Road, Route 11, and Quaker Ridge Road. Drivers will experience delays on Route 302 between 8:30 a.m. and noon. Drivers should avoid Route 302 near Point Sebago Road and seeking an alternate route at that time. Please call 221-5420 for more information.

Monday, June 10: The Windham Democratic Town Committee will host the Lakes Regions Dems Meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the Windham Public Library. All Democrats welcome. Contact Mark Bryant, WDTC Chair, for more information at 892-6591.

Wednesday, June 12: The third annual WOMB Forum (Women’s Outlook on Maine Business) takes place 2-5 p.m. at Camp Takajo in Naples. Former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden will host the event. The event is sponsored by the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $35 for members and $40 for non-members. Signature sponsor is People’s United Bank. FMI, go to sebagolakeschamber.com.

June 14-16: The eighth annual Maine Blues Festival takes place in Naples. Dozens of blues bands and performers take the stage at various venues around downtown Naples. Tickets are $12 in advance and $16 during the event. For more information, check out mainebluesfestival.com.

Friday, June 14: The newly established Lakes Region Community Chorus will perform “A Bouquet of Music” at the Bridgton Academy Chapel. The free concert starts at 7 p.m. and explores a variety of musical styles.

Saturday, June 15: A used book sale will be held on Saturday, June 15, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Windham Hill United Church of Christ, 140 Windham Center Road in Windham. A huge selection of fiction and nonfiction books will be available. For more information, call 892-4217.

June 15: Casco Public Library is holding a Trash & Treasure sale 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

June 21-July 7: Schoolhouse Arts Center will present “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” June 21, 22, 28, 29 and July 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. and June 23 and 30 and July 7 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults and $16 for students and seniors. Schoolhouse Arts Center is located at 16 Richville Road (Route 114) in Standish, just north of the intersection of Route 114 and Route 35. Call 642-3743 for reservations or buy tickets online at www.schoolhousearts.org.

Saturday, June 29: Raymond Garden Tour. It will begin at the Raymond Village Library and include 12 private Raymond gardens. 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 day of tour. They may be purchased at the Raymond Village Florist on Route 302, at the Raymond Village Library on Route 121 and online at raymondvillagelibrary.org.

June 29: The Windham High School girls volleyball team hosts a car wash at NAPA Auto Parts in North Windham from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

July 20: Windham High School Class of 1973 holds its 40th Reunion upstairs at Rustler’s Steak House in Windham from 6 p.m. on. There will be a menu to order food from that night, so no advance reservation or admission fee is required. Come celebrate! RSVP to Sue Witonis 655-4426/switonis@gmail.com or Donna Morton at 655-3581/dmorton4@maine.rr.com.

Portland Maine Airport and the Sequester

February 25th, 2013

WASHINGTON – Maine stands to lose more than $5 million in education funding as well as millions more for environmental programs, defense programs and services for the elderly under budget cuts due to start this week, according to the White House.

In another attempt to ratchet up public pressure on Congress, the White House on Sunday released state-by-state estimates of how defense and domestic programs would be affected under the $85 billion “sequester” cuts that begin Friday.

Democratic and Republican leaders still appear far apart on how to avert the across-the-board spending reductions.

In Maine as in most states, the defense industry would be hit hard, because 50 percent of the overall cuts will be levied on the Department of Defense.

The White House estimated that 22 days of unpaid furloughs for roughly 7,000 civilian defense employees in Maine would reduce payroll by $41.7 million.

Many of those furloughed employees would be from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, which has roughly 4,700 civilian workers from Maine and New Hampshire. Impacts on Bath Iron Works’ 5,000 employees would be less immediate; however, officials there are concerned that budget uncertainty could cause the Navy to delay contracts for new destroyers.

But education programs would also be impacted, as expected. According to the White House, those impacts could include:

• Loss of $2.7 million in primary and secondary education funding, putting at risk 40 teachers and teacher’s aides while cutting services to 2,000 students and 20 schools.

• $2.6 million less for 30 teachers and staff who work with children with disabilities.

• Elimination of funding for about 300 Head Start students.

• More than 100 lower-income college students will lose tuition assistance or work-study jobs.

The White House also estimated that 740 fewer children would receive vaccinations due to the loss of $51,000 in federal funding, while programs that provide meals to seniors would lose $197,000. Other health care programs for substance abuse and HIV testing would lose nearly $400,000, while environmental protection and wildlife programs would lose $1.9 million.

“This is going to have very real impacts on people’s lives and communities,” Dan Pfeiffer, senior adviser to President Obama, said in a conference call with reporters Sunday. “Are all of these things going into effect on the first day (of March)? No. But there are hundreds of thousands of people working today who will lose their jobs because of sequestration.”

Sunday’s state-by-state reports were the latest attempt by the Obama administration to pressure Republican leaders in Congress into either delaying the cuts or accepting a plan that would mix spending reductions with elimination of tax exemptions for corporations and wealthy individuals. Republicans are insisting that the savings come from spending cuts, including from Medicare and other entitlement programs.

New, dire-sounding predictions have come out of the White House almost daily and administration officials suggested Sunday that additional agencies will release new details as the week progresses.

On Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that Bangor International Airport and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport were among 60 facilities nationwide that could lose overnight staffing in their air traffic control towers. Portland Maine Airport will also be effected.

Under such a scenario, coverage would bump to air traffic controllers in the regional center in Boston. However, the changes could affect commercial airlines’ willingness to schedule late-night or early-morning flights into and out of the airports.

Acadia National Park, meanwhile, is preparing plans for a $390,000 cut, the park’s deputy superintendent said Friday. That could mean shortening the season that the visitor center is open, eliminating an air and water quality specialist and fewer interpretive programs for the park, which gets about 2.5 million visitors annually.

Members of Maine’s congressional delegation — which consists of two Democrats, a Republican and an independent — have been urging Congress and the president to take action.

“These kind of arbitrary and extreme cuts are going to be bad for Maine families and bad for the economy and it’s why I voted against the bill that created them in the first place,” U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, said a statement Sunday night.

“We can work toward a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, but drastic cuts to programs that help students struggling to pay for college or seniors trying to pay for their next meal isn’t the way to do it.”

Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, the majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which publishes the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins and independent Sen. Angus King, meanwhile, visited Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard last week to call attention to their concerns over impacts on Maine’s shipbuilding industry.

“We write today to express our specific commitment to a bipartisan and long-term deficit reduction solution to avoid damage to our national security, important domestic priorities, and our economy,” King and Collins wrote in a letter to Obama last week. “It will require scrutiny and decreases in spending across all areas, including non-defense and defense discretionary and mandatory, as well as comprehensive tax reform. Less than two weeks remain before sequestration cuts go into effect, but there is still time for a better approach.”

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@pressherald.com

Airport cab drivers offer alternatives to lottery

October 24th, 2012

PORTLAND – Facing a taxi lottery system they oppose, airport cab drivers have suggested an alternative that they say will meet the city’s goal of reducing the number of cabs at the Portland International Jetport while opening up the market to more drivers.

The cab drivers suggest two options: instituting shifts with only 40 cabs in each shift; or allowing attrition to work its course. If attrition doesn’t work, they suggest any lottery system should be limited to those cabs already permitted to do business at the airport.

The proposal will be heard Wednesday by the City Council’s Transportation Committee, which meets at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.

Also on the agenda are proposals to reroute Route 77 — a critical step toward making High and State streets two-way — and to establish an advisory committee to study traffic patterns and streetscapes in Libbytown — an effort that could lead to different traffic patterns and the removal of exits from Interstate 295.

The airport cab drivers’ proposal is in response to the city’s efforts to reduce the number of cabs allowed to wait for passengers without being called to the airport. In 2010, the council capped the number of permits at 40, but exempted the 51 existing permit holders with the expectation that the number would drop through attrition. But the number has dropped by only two.

City officials believe the permits are being transferred through power of attorney — possibly for a fee — to other drivers.

Jetport Director Paul Bradbury has proposed a lottery system that would eventually be open to all registered cabs. Under his plan, an initial 40-permit drawing would take place in March 2013 and would only be open to existing permit holders. Ten permits would last a year, 10 for two years, 10 for three years and 10 for four years.

After that, all cab city drivers would be able to enter the lottery for a four-year permit that would have to be renewed annually.

Attorney Sigmund Schutz, who is representing the airport cab drivers, said the proposed lottery system would cost the drivers their jobs. All of the drivers are immigrants and are not able to compete citywide with other cab companies that have websites and dispatchers, he said.

One of the alternative proposals from drivers includes switching to a shift system. Each permit would be good for five or six days, or each day could be divided into two shifts — one morning and one evening.

A shift system would allow the city to limit the number of cabs at any one time, while allowing more cabs to work at the airport, Schutz said.

The drivers also recommend setting specific benchmarks for attrition. Schutz said four of the current permit holders have indicated they will not renew their permits this year. If attrition does not happen fast enough, an internal lottery could be held among the existing permit holders.

“Our two alternatives meet all of the goals,” Schutz said. “Reducing the number of cars, giving opportunities to other drivers, preserving jobs and quality service.”

City Councilor David Marshall, who leads the committee, said Tuesday he has not seen the alternative proposals yet.

HIGH AND STATE STREETS

The committee will also review a proposal to reroute Route 77 — a step toward converting High and State streets from one-way streets to two-way streets.

Currently, Route 77 connects Interstate 295 to Cape Elizabeth and South Portland along High and State streets. The city is proposing to change that route to the Fore River Parkway to West Commercial Street to the Casco Bay Bridge in an effort to reduce traffic.

The city would need permission from the Maine Department of Transportation to reroute the road.

Marshall said staff is working on an analysis of engineering upgrades needed on High and State streets to accommodate two-way traffic, which officials hope will make the streets safer.

LIBBYTOWN

The committee will also consider forming an advisory group to study traffic and street improvements in Libbytown, located just west of Interstate 295.

Marshall said the study will look at converting the one-way portions of Park Avenue and Congress Street into two-way roads, making them less of a through way and more of a city street.

The group would also look at redundant exits off I-295, particularly those created by the new Fore River Parkway, he said.

“They’re look at redundant highway exits to see if there’s opportunity for removing the redundancies,” he said. “That way we can open up some area for development.”

The study has received $100,000 in funding from the Portland Area Transportation System, a regional planning group. The study would be completed by June 30, 2013.

Airport debate raises broader question: Are there too many taxis in Portland?

August 5th, 2012

Lots of Taxis waiting for fares at the Portland Maine Airport, but none to match the service of Airport Car Express
By Andrew Cullen, The Forecaster

PORTLAND, Maine — Even as city councilors on the Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee refrained from making recommendations last week about how to respond to complaints about overcrowding by specially licensed airport taxi cabs, another, broader question arose.

Does the city just have too many taxis?

Some drivers and councilors believe it does.

Portland’s population itself is not large enough to support the taxi industry’s size, said some at the July 18 committee meeting. “We have far too many cabs in Portland for the number of people being served,” Councilor Cheryl Leeman said.

There are 176 licensed cabs and 308 licensed drivers in Portland, for a population of 65,000 residents.

Taxi driver Charles Bragdon argued that the industry standard should hover around one cab per 1,000 people. In Portland, the statistics break down to roughly one taxi for every 369 residents. In New York City, there is one taxi for every 630 people; in Washington, D.C., which is considered bloated with cabs, there is one for every 75 people.

And in Bloomington, Ill., a college town of roughly 74,000 people that also serves as a twin city with neighboring Normal, there are three full-time taxi companies, with 29 vehicles between them. Independent vehicles for hire there are allowed to operate just three days a week, mostly to help clear out the downtown district bars.

Randall Chasse, the owner of Scarborough-based City Cab, complained at the meeting that a glut of cabs in the Portland market has made it difficult for anyone involved to make a reasonable income.

On its own, the Portland International Jetport has a clear overabundance of cabs, manager Paul Bradbury said. In 2010, the airport instituted a cap on the number of nonreserved taxi licenses it would hand out to drivers who want to queue up at the airport, waiting for fares without being called specifically.

The goal was to reduce through attrition the number of taxis licensed to operate at the airport from 51 to 40, although any taxi may pick up or drop off if reserved by a customer. Two years later, there are still 49 taxis with non-reserved taxi licenses, in part because many of the drivers have transferred their licenses, which must be renewed annually but have no expiration dates, via power of attorney arrangements.

Attempts last year to stop the power of attorney transfers met with protest and a lawsuit from the airport cab drivers, who are all immigrants, mostly from Somalia. At the committee meeting last week, the council chambers were full of taxi drivers, many of whom work from the airport and oppose measures to change the system that they fear could result in the loss of their non-reserved taxi licenses, and their livelihoods.

But on Friday in the holding lot where airport drivers wait their turn, one flashed the thin stack of dollar bills he had made that day. He had started driving at 8 a.m.; by 2:30 p.m. he had collected about $20 from three fares.

Another said he thought the city should regulate the overall number of cabs.

Portland is unusual for not regulating the number of taxi licenses available, said Alfred LaGasse, chief executive of the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association, a national trade organization that supports fleet-owning transit companies. The “vast majority” of cities with more than 10 cabs regulate the number allowed in some way, he said.

The city considered a taxi board in 2010, but failed to find willing members, Councilor Kevin Donoghue said.

Donoghue agreed that both the airport and the overall taxi markets are oversaturated. “The general taxi market is a classic tragedy of the commons example” he said, thanks to the relatively low-barrier entry into the industry.

“I don’t have a clear policy solution to it other than I recognize that a flooded market hurts people’s ability to make a living,” Donoghue said.

Donoghue pointed out that some local cab companies are quite successful, even growing.

Those include 207 Taxi, which started operating with three cabs last December. This week, its seventh car hit the road, owner Garrin Brady said Monday.

“We’re barely able to keep up with the amount of work,” he said. The key to his success, he said, has been offering superior service. “Business 101,” Brady said.

The argument that some drivers made at the transportation committee meeting, that 176 cabs for just 65,000 people is too many, is flawed, Brady said, because Portland’s cabs actually service a much broader coverage area that extends to neighboring communities that together are home to hundreds of thousands of people.

Brady does not support increasing citywide regulation of the quantity of available taxi licenses.

“I don’t think limiting the amount of cabs would be solving anything,” he said. More beneficial, he said, would be enforcing the rules the city does have in place, like no smoking in cabs.

Brady and city officials recognized the challenge in enforcing those rules, since in order for the city to investigate complaints they must be made formally and can’t be anonymous.

Suspending a single driver’s license for an infraction would send a clear message to the rest, Brady said. The number of cabs might not shrink, but the quality of service would rise, he said.

“It will improve the industry,” he said.

Airtran is out, Southwest is in, at airport in Portland, Maine

January 25th, 2012

PORTLAND, Maine — The arrival of Southwest Airlines in Portland, Maine, is expected to give a boost to the number of travelers using the Portland International Jetport.

Paul Bradbury, airport director, said the terminal expansion was designed with a passenger increase in mind, and he believes Southwest will mean more passengers.

Bradbury tells the Portland Press Herald that Southwest passengers are extremely loyal, and now they can fly from Portland instead of traveling to Boston or Manchester, N.H.

The sale of Airtran to Southwest was completed in May, and Southwest announced Friday it was eliminating Airtran service from Portland and 14 other cities.

In Portland, the service is being replaced by Southwest. Bradbury tells the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/wn2NNm ) that Southwest passengers are extremely loyal, and now they can fly from Portland instead of traveling to Boston or Manchester, N.H.

Jetport to celebrate opening of new terminal

October 3rd, 2011

Over a year and a half after construction started, the Portland International Jetport will cut the ribbon to its $75 million, 145,000-square-foot terminal expansion on Friday, Sept. 30.Airport Work

Expect a few jitters as airport officials face a tight window to complete the transition.

A ribbon cutting is at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30; then on Saturday is a public open house from 9 a.m. to noon, and Sunday “we go live for the outbound flights,” said Paul Bradbury, director of the Jetport.

Between Saturday, Oct. 1 and Sunday morning, Oct. 2, at 4 a.m., the Jetport will hustle to construct a ramp to connect the buildings, close the old screening checkpoint, and move JetBlue and U.S. Airways operations into the new terminal.

“I’m pretty confident it will work out, obviously there’s always nervousness, otherwise you’re not interested in the project,” Bradbury said.

In the vacated space will be 10,000 square feet of renovated space for two outbound baggage handling systems. All carriers — including United, Delta, AirTran, Continental — will be moved into the new ticketing concourse by February.

“We open on Oct. 2, what ends up happening is JetBlue and U.S. Airways ticket counters and operations space and baggage move down to the new ticketing concourse,” Bradbury explained, which will allow contractor Turner Construction of Boston to finish renovations and put in new baggage carousels.

All told, Turner is overseeing a 145,000-square-foot terminal expansion and renovation to the Jetport’s main terminal building. This project will include five additional passenger gates, a security screening checkpoint, required baggage handling equipment, elevators, revised inbound/outbound passenger circulation, an enclosed bridged connection to the parking garage over the terminal roadway, a food court and increased retail space, Turner reports on its website. The site work includes an expansion of the existing surface parking lots as well.

“We’ve been in design and planning, you could say that goes all the way back to the 1990 master plan,” said Bradbury.

At one time the largest construction project in the state, the Jetport’s $75 million terminal expansion will add 137,000 square feet of space to the existing terminal, double the number of security screening checkpoint lanes and add an outbound baggage in-line explosives detection system.

The Jetport plans to pay for nearly all of the improvements with passenger facility charges — the fees tacked on to airfares that can be used for a variety of FAA-approved projects including terminal expansion, enhancements to security or safety and noise abatement, among others. Each passenger that boards a plane at the Jetport is charged a $4.50 passenger facility charge.

“The terminal is all user funded,” Bradbury noted. “This project is being built functionally by the people who use the airport. It’s not taxpayers. … The only real stimulus funding we ended up using was for the in-line baggage system.”

The explosives detection system is linked to airport security, but Bradbury said the Jetport wasn’t singled out, although 9/11 terrorists Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz al-Omari flew from Portland to Boston to carry out the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Nationally there is one level of security now at airports, and there needs to be, it doesn’t matter what airport someone goes through. … They all have to be secure,” Bradbury said.

“It doesn’t matter if you come through Portland, Maine or Portland, Ore., you’re in the system,” he said.

Jetport makes room for First Lady’s visit

The Portland Jetport scheduled its terminal-expansion ribbon cutting around another notable event in Portland — the arrival of Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama’s wife, to raise money for her husband’s re-election.

First Lady Michelle Obama is expected to attend a luncheon at a private home in Cape Elizabeth followed by a fundraising event, Obama Victory Fund 2012 — Afternoon Reception with the First Lady, at the Ocean Gateway terminal at 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30.

Paul Bradbury, director of the Jetport, said a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30, to celebrate construction of an expanded terminal at the Jetport was scheduled with the First Lady’s visit in mind. The Jetport didn’t want to compete for media attention with the First Lady’s visit to the Ocean Gateway terminal in the afternoon, he said.

Portland Jetport flight path changes could take five years

July 8th, 2011

Portland Maine Airport – The Portland International Jetport Noise Advisory Committee held its first-ever public information session Thursday, at South Portland City Hall, and noise is exactly what they got.

About 20 area residents attended the session, arranged by committee member and South Portland City Councilor Alan Livingston. The object, to open a dialogue with the pubic, was prefaced with presentations by Jetport Director Paul Bradbury and Security and Communications Manager Jennifer Dunfee.

Attendees sat quietly through Powerpoint slides on the Jetport’s $75 million expansion (the new terminals open Oct. 2), its carrier mix (US Airways accounts for 29.7 percent of all flights), passengers served (1.69 million in 2010, down from a high of 1.76 million in 2008) and its economic impact ($868 million, annually, supporting 11,591 jobs).

But what they really wanted to know was when and how the Jetport proposed to reduce the thundering noise some area residents must endure on a daily basis. The answer the residents received – perhaps as long as five years – did not sit well with those that now live along the Jetport’s flight path.

“It really makes by house rumble,” said Richard Armstrong.

“We’re getting crop dusted on a daily basis,” said Bill Duffy.

“It’s just a tailpipe of jet exhaust into South Portland,” said Peter Frankwicz.

As Bradbury explained it, the Jetport has a solution that will divert more than 90 percent of all air traffic that now passes over the South Portland peninsula. The only problem, he said, is the Jetport can’t implement the fix without a mother-may-I from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

According to Bradbury, permission was first sought almost two years ago for a radio navigation system that would guide pilots down the Fore River to a GPS unit (to be dubbed “MAINA”) placed on Hog Island Ledge. That would make it possible for all commercial airliners to use what’s called the “harbor-view approach” now in use only during the day, under optimal weather conditions, and only for landings. That route would ensure that takeoffs, the noisiest plane activity, avoid the city entirely.

“Sounds great, doesn’t it?” asked Bradbury. “It looks brilliant. We all think it’s brilliant. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist yet.”

And, if those at the meeting thought little of the two-year wait, they were even less mollified by Bradbury’s prediction of how much longer the FAA might take to enact new procedures at the Portland Jetport.

“I’m confident it will happen within five years,” he said, eliciting an audible groan from the audience.

Although Bradbury began his talk by praising the feds for putting control of all air travel under a single administration – “that’s why it’s the safest way to travel,” he said – it fell to others to explain what else can be wrought of central control.

“Once you leave the local district and get bounced into the Washington bureaucracy, they can make Congress look fast-moving and nimble,” said Edward Suslovic , the committee’s chairman and a Portland City Councilor whose district includes the Jetport.

Bradbury pointed out that wind direction determines how planes approach and depart the Jetport. Because they must take off and land into the wind, that means 97.3 percent of all flights use runways 11 and 29, which are orientated on an east-west axis. And, although Dunfee said the Jetport tries to send planes to the west whenever possible, a good portion of the time conditions dictate that they pass directly over South Portland neighborhoods, like Knigtville, Mill Creek and Willard Square.

Pilots are instructed to “fan out,” said Dunfee, meaning some bank right or left almost as soon as they hit altitude, which lowers the number of flights that pass directly over the city. However, while that reduces the number of flights taking off over the peninsula, it also spreads the annoyance factor around.

“This is not what we want to do going forward,” she said, noting that with the radio navigation system in place, pilots could fly the S-shaped pattern down the river and out over Casco Bay through a cloud cover as low as 600 feet.

“We all agree, if you are woken up just once [by a departing place], that’s a problem,” said Suslovic. “But we can’t set policy. The FAA has reserved that for themselves.”

Bradbury said all commercial aircraft in use today has the GPS guidance equipment needed to take advantage of radio navigation flight path. The Jetport is simply waiting on the FAA to adopt a procedure and put it out to industry comment, he said.

Suslovic said the noise committee has agreed to enlist help from Maine’s congressional delegation, should the FAA prove unresponsive. However, even though the process was begun almost two years ago, the committee does not yet felt the need to employ what he called “the nuclear option.”

“Believe me, we are all impatient,” said Suslovic, “but the FAA is looking at it. We feel that they are making progress.

“I absolutely agree that the biggest noise impact is on South Portland, and that’s why our top priority as a committee has been to work on this RNAV route,” said Suslovic. “Once we get this approved and implemented, I think the folks in South Portland will see a marked difference.”

“I think it’s sad that it’s been two years that you’ve all been working so hard and so little seems to have happened,” said Diane Armstrong.

Sam Frantoni pressed Bradbury repeatedly on how long it should take to gain FAA approval of the radio navigation path, garnering little more than a “great question.”

“It’s an 18-step process, ” said Durfee “and we’re in about step three or four at this point.”

Frantoni asked for detail on each of the 18 steps, as well as a standard timeframe under which each is usually accomplished. That drew more generalizations from Bradbury.

“There is a lot of technology and mapping that goes into this,” he said. “There’s safety programming and analysis, and then the airlines get to do the same rigorous analysis.”

Bradbury added that the FAA has been sent back to the drawing board once already, after they returned with a proposed radion navigation route that “clipped” South Portland at Bug Light.

“So, it’s not like we said go and they waited two years,” he said.

But, for some in the crowd, the attempt to divert flights from the city was not only about noise.

“It’s also a health issue,” said Duffy. “There are days when I walk out of my house and it feels like I’m on the tarmac of the airport, with the reeking fumes.”

Frankwicz agreed, referencing a February 2010 health impact assessment of the Santa Monica airport prepared by UCLA.

“I am very concerned,” he said. “It’s a very alarming study talking about urban airport emissions that lead to carcinogenic risks, exposures to ultra-fine particles, which lead to inflammation of airway passages, and exposure to hydro-carbons, which are lowering IQ scores in children.

“Runway 11 goes directly over at least three or four schools,” said Frankwicz. “We are exposing our children to these health risks. And then the noise results in higher levels of physiological distress, impaired reading comprehension and memory among children.”

“I feel like I’m complaining to the wrong people,” said Duffy, who, like many in the audience, did not seem content to wait five years to be free from overflights.

“If it seems like it’s really grinding to a halt, at what point will you get in touch with our senators?” he asked.

“As long as we are making forward progress we do not want to pull the heavy hand of our congressional delegation,” answered Suslovic, “because, in certain circumstances, that can put you in limbo, as in, ‘We’ll show them.’”

But then, Suslovic seemed to indicate how, for every winner of a bureaucratic decision, there can also be losers. After all, while jets currently fan out when leaving the jetport to mitigate the impact on any one neighborhood, the projected flightpaths shown by Dunfee showed virtually every departing flight on the proposed path taking a hard right at Hog Light and flying directly over Peaks Island.

And, if continual Peaks Island flyovers might still represent “the greatest gain for the greatest number of people,” Suslovic, whether he meant to or not, seemed to draw a closer parallel with the Portland Jetport’s current status with the FAA. After all, who oils the wheel that squeaks least?

“I expect that I’ll be getting a lot more calls from Peaks Island once we implemented this,” he said. “But it’s more of a seasonal community, so in the winter there are fewer people who are going to be impacted and in the summer, well, a lot of those people don’t vote.”

Bradbury said the radio navigation process will be on the agenda for the next meeting of the noise advisory committee. That gathering kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Jetport.

Posted by Portland Maine Airport Limo and Taxi Service Airport Car Express

With economy improving, more Mainers hit the road for holidays

December 18th, 2010
Portland maine Airport Limo customers
Travelers leave the Bangor International Airport Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010. Millions of people throughout the country travel to see family on the day before Thanksgiving, which is said to be one of the year’s busiest travel days.

More Mainers were expected to hit the roads and skies for the holiday compared with last year, reflecting national trends and a slowly improving economy.

Storms snarl travel National travel picture
Opt-Out Day a bust; weather whacks West.

The AAA travel organization estimated roughly 42.2 million people nationwide would drive more than 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving, an 11.4 percent increase over 2009. Similarly, 1.62 million will fly for the holiday, an increase of 3.5 percent over last year. And roughly 2 percent of holiday travelers will go by other means, including rail, bus and boat, AAA said.

The Maine Turnpike — the central artery into and out of the state — was expecting an overall traffic increase of 4,000 vehicles from Wednesday through Sunday, up about 1.6 percent from last year. That analysis was done by Charles Colgan, an economist at the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Southern Maine.

According to the analysis, 59,000 vehicles were expected to pass through the York Toll Plaza in both directions on Wednesday, with 32,000 heading north and 27,000 going south. Sunday is expected to be nearly as busy with 55,000 vehicles traveling in and out of Maine, including a 2 percent increase in southbound traffic or about 32,000 vehicles.

“It largely reflects just a general slight upward trend in the economy and in people’s willingness to travel,” Colgan said.

Traffic has been trending slowly upward through the second half of the year, he said, with general year-over-year increases on holiday weekends.

“This is largely a continuation of that slow but steady improvement,” said Colgan.

Despite nationwide grumbling about the Transportation Security Administration’s new body scanners and aggressive body pat-downs, officials at Bangor International Airport and the Portland International Jetport said they expected increased passenger counts and no real issues.

Neither airport has the scanning devices, which have caused passengers to protest due to the revealing nature of the images they create.

Bangor International Airport Director Rebecca Hupp said she’s expecting this week to reflect the small increases in passenger numbers the airport has seen this year.

“In Bangor, we’ve seen increases in passenger travel,” said Hupp. “We’re optimistic that travel this year will be strong [during the holidays].”

BIA passenger traffic was up 19 percent in October year-over-year. The numbers were also up in September. Those percentage jumps likely won’t continue for November, Hupp said. Allegiant added flights last November, so any increases will be smaller.

Gregory Hughes, marketing manager at the Portland Jetport, said travel ahead of the holiday is spread out a bit, even into last week. The challenge will come on the return trips, which tend to stack up, he said.

“The insanity will probably be more here on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning,” said Hughes. “Everybody is trying to get back from where they’ve been.”

The Jetport is seeing numbers roughly even with last year, Hughes said.

Management at the Greyhound station in Bangor has been “very pleased and very busy,” said Arthur Brountas, out of retirement to help out during the holiday rush. From experience, they know to increase staff and add a bus on the line down to Lewiston, said Brountas. He suggested some of the national griping about security measures at airports might help out the bus line.

“This year looks better — maybe some people aren’t taking planes,” said Brountas, laughing. “The airlines seem to be doing OK, but I’m sure we’re getting some people that don’t care to go through the process right now.”

While some nasty weather may be heading this way from the Midwest, the timing may work out for holiday travelers, said Lee Foster, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Caribou. Thanksgiving Day should be dry across the state with some flurries in the mountains. That Midwest system should be in Maine on Friday, dumping rain from Bangor south and snow and sleet in the northern parts of the state. He said 2 to 4 inches of snow may fall in some areas.

Precipitation should end by Friday evening, and the weekend won’t see any big storms, though the weather will be unsettled with a few flurries north, Foster said.

The Maine Department of Transportation, Maine State Police and AAA used the start of the holiday travel season to remind motorists of the challenges of driving in sloppy winter weather. According to an advisory they sent out, while Maine’s snowiest month is January, crash statistics show that there are more winter-weather related crashes in December than any other month as drivers are getting re-accustomed to driving in snow and ice.

One group, Environment Maine, was taking advantage of the expected jump in travel to push the Obama administration to increase fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. The group noted that about 73,000 families will drive to visit friends and family in Maine, spending about $1.63 million on gas for holiday traveling. The average mile per gallon of passenger cars is now at 26.4 mpg, and the group is pushing for 60 mpg standards.

With such standards, Mainers would save roughly $911,000 at the gas pump, or $12 per family, the group suggested.

“At Thanksgiving time, Mainers should be focused on clearing their plates, not clearing out their wallets at the gas pump,” said Nathaniel Meyer of Environment Maine in a press statement.

From Portland to Portland: Man completes solo cross-country canoe trip

September 24th, 2010

Portland to Portland Maine Man Canoes easier than a Limo Drives

PORTLAND, Maine — A man who began a solo cross-country canoe trip in Portland, Ore., has completed the journey 4,300 miles later in Portland, Maine.

Alexander Martin, of Kensington, Conn., paddled the final stretch down the Presumpscot River today and arrived at Portland’s East End Beach, where family waited.

The 24-year-old says his entire trip was human powered, either by paddle or pedal. He used a bike to pull his canoe on some of the longer portages.

He made the trip in three two-month segments that started in April 2009. And he’s thinking about his next waterborne adventure, possibly the Lena River in Siberia. He says it’s described as one of the longest rivers in the world that’s not obstructed by dams.

He should have called Airport Car Express, a local Portland Maine Limo company for an easier, if not so satisfying ride !!

JetBlue nonstops favor Boston over Portland

August 28th, 2010

PORTLAND — JetBlue Airways’ ongoing expansion in Boston is bound to siphon off some southern Maine passengers from Portland International Jetport, the airline’s president and chief executive officer acknowledged Thursday.

“If you live south of here and want to fly nonstop, there’s no doubt people will make the drive,” said David Barger.

The best way to limit that trend and encourage JetBlue to bolster its presence in Maine, Barger added, is for Mainers to fly out of Portland.

Barger was in Portland as part of a 10th anniversary tour that’s taking him to each of the 61 cities JetBlue serves. He used the opportunity to talk about how Portland fits into the airline’s growth plans, congestion at JetBlue’s hub in New York City and what type of service will be offered between Portland and Orlando this winter.

Barger visited an airport in the midst of a major expansion, one that has largely weathered the recession and is on track to fly roughly 1.7 million passengers this year, on par with 2009.

Since arriving in Portland four years ago, JetBlue Airways has become a key contributor to the vitality of Maine’s largest airport. It has five daily flights in and out of Portland to its new terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. It carried 294,000 passengers last year, roughly 17 percent of all Portland traffic.

JetBlue began serving Portland at a critical time. The city had just lost its only low-cost carrier, when Independence Air went under. Many Maine fliers were traveling to Boston, or to Manchester, N.H., to take advantage of discount fares being offered by Southwest Airlines.

The “JetBlue effect,” as it was called, helped reverse those trends. Legacy airlines such as USAirways and Delta began trimming fares to New York City – the jetport’s top destination – as soon as JetBlue’s expansion was announced.

“I don’t think it’s overstating it to say JetBlue made a transformational change at the jetport,” said Steve Hewins, vice president for travel at AAA Northern New England. “I honestly think it has been a major factor in the jetport’s resurgence.”

JetBlue’s flights to New York, and AirTran Airways trips to Baltimore-Washington, D.C., help maintain competition for Portland’s top two destinations, according to Paul Bradbury, the jetport’s director. And while JetBlue isn’t as aggressive with pricing as it once was, in Bradbury’s view, it offers a value experience for many fliers, such as providing video screens on each seat and not charging for the first checked bag.

“They have a very good product at a reasonable price,” he said.

JetBlue has been able to maintain that product at a time when some other airlines have struggled. The publicly-traded company was profitable last year. And while it showed a loss in the first quarter of this year, the airline bounced back in the second quarter with record revenues and highest-ever operating income. It also has been ranked first in overall satisfaction for low-cost airlines for the past six years by J.D. Powers and Associates, just ahead of Southwest.

JetBlue’s competition with Southwest is now unfolding in Boston, where JetBlue recently has become the top carrier at Logan International Airport. JetBlue is constrained from growing much in the busy New York City airspace, and has chosen Boston as a place to diversify its route system. It will begin offering service this November between Boston and Reagan/National in Washington, D.C., Portland’s second most popular destination.

“That’s where the resources are going,” Barger said of Logan.

More travelers are discovering this, Hewins said, which puts more pressure on Portland

Hewins noted this example: A Maine traveler who booked a flight this week to Los Angeles on Sept. 2, could catch an evening flight on JetBlue from Portland through JFK to Long Beach, Calif., for $399. A direct flight from Boston was listed at $296.

“It’s the kind of thing where you could wind up competing against yourself,” Hewins said.

JetBlue’s expansion in Boston is being watched closely by Bradbury.

Average fares at Logan remain higher than those in Portland, he said, but Portland can’t match the schedule frequency or the advantage of direct flights out of Boston. The growth of reliable, hourly bus service between Portland and Logan’s terminals leads some fliers to take advantage of what Boston has to offer, at Portland’s expense.

Bradbury would like to see JetBlue offer a direct flight from Portland to Washington, D.C., but Barger said that won’t make economic sense now. He wants Boston service to mature first.

And Barger said JetBlue is still considering what type of flights will link Portland to Orlando this winter. JetBlue presently offers a direct flight on Saturdays. Last winter it competed with a comparable direct flight offering by AirTran. Maine vacations in Florida also were reduced by the lingering recession.

“It was good, but it wasn’t great,” Barger said of the economics.

Overall, Barger said, Portland performs well for JetBlue, but any future expansion will be driven by sustained demand.

“My message is, we’re looking for local support,” he said.