Building a Better Gateway

A modernization collaboration between Maine DOT and MTA

Maine’s continued rise in popularity as a destination for families, foodies, and outdoor enthusiasts has led to a rise in back-ups and traffic jams at the state’s southern gateway, a development that doesn’t benefit anyone. Maine Ahead will modernize two of Maine’s iconic entry points, the Piscataqua River Bridge, and the York Toll Plaza, alleviating the problem and providing a more welcoming entry to the state WITHOUT increasing toll prices. When Maine Ahead is finished, both commuters and visitors will breathe a sigh of relief when they crest the bridge and see Maine’s state line sign welcoming them home.

Latest Updates

Bridge Update – 5/27/21

The “Maine Ahead” project on the Piscatacqua River (I-95) Bridge in Kittery is entering its third and final year on time and on budget. This project is improving safety and mobility on Maine’s most important bridge and will preserve the structure for another 50 years of use. This work is also preparing the bridge for an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) project, which will allow part-time shoulder use during peak travel times.

Work on the new bridge joints is finished, the bridge deck is 79 percent complete, the barriers are 49 percent complete, and the paving work is 43 percent complete. To date, crews have placed 3,400 cubic yards of concrete and used 417,000 pounds of steel. This project started in May 2019 and is expected to be finished by May 2022.

During the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, all six travel lanes (three on each side) will be open to traffic from Thursday, May 27th at 6:00 p.m. through Tuesday, June 1st at 5:30 a.m.

“Maine Ahead” Virtual Public Meeting – March 24, 2021 6pm

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of Transportation will be assisting the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority with a virtual public meeting to discuss the ongoing “Maine Ahead” project on the Piscataqua River (I-95) Bridge. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss capacity improvements to the interstate during peak travel times by allowing travel on the low-speed shoulder as needed. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 24, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. and will be conducted via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/95253526733?pwd=S3hiNmhOcS9URlRFaURQZHBubU0xUT09. Presentation materials and the meeting link will be located on the NHDOT website: https://www.nh.gov/dot/projects/portsmouthyork16189b/index.htm.

Bridge Update – 2/26/21

KITTERY – The Maine Department of Transportation and its contracting partners will be closing the left travel lanes on both sides of the Piscataqua River (I-95) Bridge on Sunday, February 28th. Crews will close the left lane on the northbound side at 7:00 p.m. and the left lane on the southbound side at 10:00 p.m. These closures are happening to accommodate work on bridge joints. We expect both left travel lanes will remain closed until the bridge joint work is finished in May.

Additionally, crews will be closing the middle lanes on both the northbound and southbound sides nightly between Sunday, February 28th and Friday, March 5th.

Traffic volumes on the bridge remain down between 20 and 25 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. That drop in traffic has created safer working conditions for our crews and contractors. Decreased traffic levels have also helped our productivity. We will no longer need to close the northbound Exit 7 on-ramp as originally planned.

We want to remind drivers to pay attention and drive carefully in construction work zones. Lanes are narrower, and our crews are working close to traffic. We continue to appreciate the patience and understanding of the members of the traveling public as we work on these important safety improvements.

Bridge Update – 11/19/20

PORTSMOUTH – As part of the ongoing work to make safety improvements on the Piscataqua River (I-95) Bridge, crews will be closing the Exit 7 northbound on-ramp overnight tonight. The ramp closure is scheduled between 7:00 p.m. tonight and 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Traffic will be diverted to the signed truck detour route that is currently in place. This closures is necessary to ensure the safety of work crews and the traveling public during a traffic shift.

This bridge work is part of the “Maine Ahead” project, which involves the Maine and New Hampshire Departments of Transportation as well as the Maine Turnpike Authority. The improvements on the Piscataqua River Bridge and at the York Toll Plaza will revitalize Maine’s southern gateway. High-speed tolling will be available in York, and part-time shoulder use will be an option on the bridge.

Drivers should obey work-zone speed limits and be alert and careful while passing our crews. Our primary focus is the safety of both our crews and the traveling public.

Bridge Update – 11/13/20

KITTERY – Work on the Piscataqua River (I-95) Bridge will result in significant lane closures and traffic shifts next week to accommodate median work. This median work is expected to continue until October 2021.

Beginning at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, November 16th, crews will be closing the southbound right travel lane. The contractor will close another lane at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 17th to accommodate a traffic shift. The southbound side will be back open to two lanes by 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, November 18th. The southbound left travel lane on the bridge will remain closed. Crews will open the bridge to three lanes (closer to the outside edge of the bridge) by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, November 20th.

The northbound right travel lane is already closed. The contractor will close another lane at 10:00 p.m. on Friday, November 20th to accommodate a traffic shift. The northbound side will be back open to two lanes by 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 21st. The northbound left travel lane on the bridge will remain closed. Crews will open the bridge to three lanes (closer to the outside edge of the bridge) by 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 21st.

Like all outdoor construction work, this schedule is heavily dependent on weather conditions.

This bridge work is part of the “Maine Ahead” project, which also involves the Maine Turnpike Authority and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. The improvements on the Piscataqua River Bridge and at the York Toll Plaza will revitalize Maine’s southern gateway. High-speed tolling will be available in York, and part-time shoulder use will be an option on the bridge.

Drivers should obey work-zone speed limits and be alert and careful while passing our crews. Our primary focus is the safety of both our crews and the traveling public.

Plaza Project Update – 7/16/21

Looking north through the southbound cash lanes.
Looking north through the southbound cash lanes.
Aerial view of new York tolls
Crews are putting the finishing touches on the booths and canopy.

Contractor Schedule:

Reed & Reed continues to make progress and complete punch list items.  Concrete and paving work is complete at this time.  Some final striping remains.  The new ground mount signs are anticipated to be installed by mid-August.  The large overhead signs are scheduled to be installed the week prior to the new toll plaza opening (early September).  A final walkthrough of the toll building is scheduled for July 27th.

Plaza Project Update – 5/27/21

Paving crew
Pike’s paving crew paving the northbound cash lanes, north of the new plaza, looking north.

Contractor: Reed & Reed, Inc.

Contractor Schedule: 
Reed & Reed finished up their remaining concrete placements recently for the toll plaza.  Their crews are working on wiring and concrete finishes within the cash lanes and the tunnel.  The roofing sub-contractor has completed the southbound canopy and has swapped over to the northbound canopy.  Electricians, HVAC professionals, and tolling operators continue to work on the booths and tunnel; making connections and finishing various component installations.  The paving contractor has been paving steadily as weather allows.  They hope to start paving surface within the ORT lanes the week of May 31. The earthwork crews continue to finish grade slopes and install loam around the project as the project progresses.

Plaza Project Update – 5/27/21

The “Maine Ahead” project on the Piscatacqua River (I-95) Bridge in Kittery is entering its third and final year on time and on budget. This project is improving safety and mobility on Maine’s most important bridge and will preserve the structure for another 50 years of use. This work is also preparing the bridge for an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) project, which will allow part-time shoulder use during peak travel times.

Work on the new bridge joints is finished, the bridge deck is 79 percent complete, the barriers are 49 percent complete, and the paving work is 43 percent complete. To date, crews have placed 3,400 cubic yards of concrete and used 417,000 pounds of steel. This project started in May 2019 and is expected to be finished by May 2022.

During the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, all six travel lanes (three on each side) will be open to traffic from Thursday, May 27th at 6:00 p.m. through Tuesday, June 1st at 5:30 a.m.

Traffic volumes are still between 10 and 20 percent below what they were before the pandemic, but they are slowly returning to normal. As Maine enters its peak tourist season, the Maine Department of Transportation is urging drivers to obey posted speed limits and stay alert behind the wheel.

Plaza Project Update – 4/27/21

Construction Image of Plaza
In the background, Reed & Reed is working on the canopy wiring for the tolling system.

Contractor: Reed & Reed, Inc.

Project Schedule: Completion date June 21, 2021.

Contractor Schedule: 
Reed & Reed crews continue to make progress working on the remaining concrete portions of the north and southbound toll plazas. Their mechanical subcontractors are working on the heating, cooling, and plumbing systems. TransCore, the tolling consultant has been on site working with Reed & Reed electricians to get communication wiring and other tolling equipment integrated into the new facility. Grondin has been grading the median shoulders adjacent to the median concrete barrier in preparation for spring paving. If the weather continues to improve, crews should be paving onsite before the end of April. Along the outsides of the highway, guardrail crews are working on new guardrail and right of way fences.  Given some of the limitations from the pandemic, additional time may be needed for final completion.

Plaza Project Update – 3/19/21

 

Contractor:    Reed & Reed, Inc.

Bid Amount: $ 39,484,431

Project Schedule: Completion date June 21, 2021.

Contractor Schedule:  Reed & Reed crews continue to work on median concrete barrier, toll booths, highway lighting, and tunnel electrical work.  Many highway sign foundations have been installed and will continue to be installed as weather allows. Mechanical contractors are up fitting the booths with heat and air conditioning.  They are also running service lines to these systems as well from the controls inside the tunnel.  TransCore has been installing pieces of the tolling system along side Reed & Reed electricians as they make progress towards integrating and completing the electrical and tolling systems.  Over the next few weeks, they will continue to place concrete and sign foundations.

Watch the progress!

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