Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Noisy Couplings Disturb Me

A rare opinionated piece from your editor. Be forewarned!!!

According to the Portland Forecaster's March 15, 2006 issue, some Danforth Street residents are making noise about rowdy train couplings at the Merrill Marine Terminal. However, out of 250 interested parties that were mailed notices of a meeting to discuss the alleged problem, only two people showed up (though a few wrote letters to the city). The Forecaster quotes Mary Elizabeth Duggan as saying "The coupling sounds like it is happening right under our condos."

"We are moving the commerce of the state of Maine," says David Fink, Jr., Guilford Rail Vice President. And he has a good point. Just because you bought an expensive condo to purchase a piece of Maine's seaside peace and quiet near a nice urban center here in Portland doesn't mean the world is going to stop around you. Perhaps someone forgot to tell folks that here in Portland we have a working waterfront. Something has to happen to allow goods and supplies to move from place to place so folks can have all their conveniences. We can't pack the machinery with cotton balls. It makes much more sense for the few people the noise is bothering to have a pair of earplugs handy.

According to the article, Guilford switches 25 to 100 cars nightly at the terminal. The rate and timing of the rail traffic is dependent on a wide range of factors, including the fact that "movement on the rail lines in Maine is affected by what happens at terminals throughout New England." We need to look at the larger picture here, folks.

I lived next to a railroad track once, not more than ten or twenty feet away, and quickly became used to the noise. It even went so far as to please me, because it reminded me of my connection to the greater world. Perhaps people should enjoy where they live a little more.

The influx of high-priced condos into the downtown Portland area is starting to sound a note of doom to many of us that live here on marginal (and all too normal) incomes. The idea of Portland becoming packaged and sanitized is a dire harbinger of a process that will, now that it has started, no doubt spread throughout the entirety of this unique state, and threaten its very soul.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee.


Chris Perridas said...

You really know how to tease with a double-entendre title, M. "noisy couplings", eh?

I lived, as a child, near the L&N railroad yards (in Louisville), so I know all about "clang" "ka-chunk", "clickety-clack", and so forth. When I mean near, I mean 500 feet away from the rail yards.

Michelle Souliere said...

*grin* I thought the title might get some attention... *laugh*

Here is a good aerial picture of the terminal on the company's website. You can see the dwelling roofs tucked in the trees to give you an idea of proximity.

What makes the railroad so easy to love?

Chris said...

Add me to your club: I grew up a couple hundred feet from the Grand Trunk Railroad. The only noisy couplings that disturbed me were the ones in my parents' bedroom.

Chris Jart said...

This story reminds me of a documentary I saw about farming communities in the midwest. An influx of wealthy people had chosen to build houses in the area due to the fresh air, open fields, and rural setting.

The delusional rich then proceeded to complain vehemently about the smell of manure and farm animals that always wafted through their windows.

They said they shouldn't have to put up with that....even though they'd built their new luxury houses next to family farms that had been in existance since the 1800s.

The really sad thing was they were mounting some sort of powerful white collar coalition to stamp out the farms based on what they considered the farmers "unreasonable" position that when you move into farm country, you're going to smell manure and farm animals.