It seems regardless of what year you take the photo, the view from a car on Route 1 in Wiscasset remains largely the same.

The older picture shows typical summer traffic on Route 1 in the Aug. 14, 1975 edition of the Coastal Journal.

The newer picture shows essentially the same thing, demonstrating just how little the town’s traffic woes have changed in 40 years.

The older picture was coupled with an article about possible solutions to the traffic problem. A November 1975 referendum was part of a first step (for the time at least) to begin looking at the possibility of a bypass around the heavy traffic in Wiscasset.

A proposal submitted to the 107th Legislature included $100,000 to begin work on the bypass, which included “doing preliminary engineering and initiate the right-of-way process,” according to Daniel Webster, who was director of the DOT’s Bureau of Planning at the time.

A report by the DOT in 1972 outlined three possible bypass routes around the traffic hot spot: A Northern route; a route running roughly alongside town; and a southern route utilizing Westport Island.

Talk of a bypass wasn’t new, even in ‘75. The Wiscasset Master Plan called for a bypass as early as 1958.

As every resident of the Midcoast who has ever had to travel through a 10-mile bumper-to-bumper Wiscasset traffic jam knows, the efforts in 1975 didn’t pan out. Nor did recent efforts in 2010 by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The key issue then, and now, is cost.

The preferred northern route around Wiscasset would have required a new bridge over the Sheepscot River, massive amounts of work, and an estimated $10 million in 1975, which according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is roughly equivalent to $44 million today. That cost has increased steadily over the years, with recent estimates of the cost of a bypass sitting at over $100 million.

Alternate solutions tossed about in ‘75 were similar to ones brought up as recently as 2013: Changing the traffic pattern, improving intersections in the area, and suggestions for pedestrian routes.

Considering the recent photo, those efforts didn’t seem to help much. It seems the only real solution to Wiscasset traffic is the bypass that never was to be.

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