Camden man wins Worst Road in Maine contest
Augusta — Gabriel Zacchai, a resident of Camden who wrote about a harrowing trip on Route 15 to from Blue Hill to Stonington this spring, is winner of the Worst Road in Maine contest.
Seven other entries for roads in Rockwood, Sullivan, Oxford, Dover-Foxcroft, Harrison, Madawaska and Unity were awarded runner-up certificates.
“As a 42-year-old native Mainer, I can say with absolute certainty that this is "the worst paved road I have ever tried to move a car over in my life. I thought the front end of the car was gonna come off!” wrote Zacchai in his official entry.
The Camden National Bank employee and musician, who frequently is on the road for his job as facilities specialist for the bank, had been contemplating entering two other routes he frequently travels: Old County Road in Rockland and Route 131 from Belfast to Appleton. But he became convinced that Route 15 was the worst when he had to make a trip to Stonington to deliver equipment to the local bank branch.
That trip, during the height of Maine’s annual pothole season, was long and arduous, according to Zacchai. “I drove over 40 miles at about 5 mph with a file cabinet that was determined to jump from the back seat into the front seat with me. If you live in Stonington, and you need anything from anywhere, I guess you take a boat."
“We know this road is bad because we had more than a dozen entries come in for Route 15,” said Maine Better Transportation Association President Jim Hanley. “And Gabriel’s entry really highlights the problems that bad roads cause Mainers every day. Research shows that the average Maine driver pays an additional $296 every year in extra vehicle maintenance due to rough roads. Gabriel’s story also speaks to other impacts of rough roads on daily life in Maine — including lost productivity and personal safety.”
The problem is funding. MaineDOT estimates that the state needs to spend an additional $110 million a year to maintain its road and bridge system, some of which needs major improvements.
“We are caught in a bad cycle that, at best, means we only have funding to fill the potholes on so many important regional roads like Route 15,” said Hanley. MBTA’s research shows that Maine’s federal funding for roads is decreasing as vehicles become more fuel efficient, and the state currently has no alternative funding in place. “We have got to make roads a bigger priority because it is hurting our economy,” added Hanley.
First prize: Route 15, Blue Hill to Stonington, Gabriel Zacchai, Camden
Runners-up: Route 15, Rockwood, Lisa Hargreaves, Wiscasset
Route 183, Sullivan, Bruce Munger, Sullivan
Route 121, Oxford, Amy Brousseau, Mechanics Falls
Route 35, Harrison, Angela Maddocks, Harrison
Route 7, Dover-Foxcroft, Nancy Godfrey, Dover-Foxcroft
Mill Street, Madawaska, John Young, Madawaska
Stagecoach Road, Unity, Robin and Ed Coffin, Unity
FixMaineRoads.org and the Worst Road in Maine contest are a public awareness effort by the MBTA. For more information on MBTA’s advocacy efforts to promote safer, more efficient transportation in Maine, visit mbtaonline.org.