Road to riches

By AL DIAMON  |  November 18, 2009

The toll plaza wouldn't cost quite as much as all the gambling taxes Hollywood Slots in Bangor has paid since it opened ($57 million). Its budget wouldn't cover the estimated cost of buying the MERC incinerator in Biddeford ($62 million). And it doesn't come close to what the state treasury is losing due to the Baldacci administration's decision to lease its wholesale liquor business to a private company for 10 years ($26 million annually).

But $56 million is still enough to pay for some nice Christmas gifts. For instance, you could mail out 1.3 million copies — one for every person in the state — of the new CD by 80-year-old Aroostook County resident Joyce Rossi-Gammon called A Tater Farm In Maine (about $17 million). You could put Stephen King's latest bestseller, Under The Dome, under every tree ($12 million, assuming Amazon ships for free). And add holiday cheer by stuffing the stockings of those of legal drinking age with four-packs of Geary's Imperial IPA ($9 million, including bottle deposit).

All that still totals less than the price of a toll plaza, so let's use the difference to treat every homeless person in Maine to a first-class meal at 555 restaurant in Portland (the kind of repast turnpike authority directors have been known to enjoy). For starters, order Bangs Island mussels ($12.95), followed by orchard apple salad ($9.95), with a main course of pan-roasted pheasant breast ($31.95), and phyllo-pear tart for dessert ($9). Add in a couple glasses of good champagne ($15 each), and the bill for 850 people, with tax and generous tip, comes to just over $85,000. And you'd still have enough left to build a decent toll plaza.

Enjoy your gifts. Thank-you notes can be sent to

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