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 – 10/8/21

For the holiday weekend, there will be 3 lanes open for traffic on the Piscataqua River Bridge from Friday morning, October 8th through Tuesday night, October 12th.

The following lane closures are scheduled to take place to accommodate paving work. These closures are subject to change pending weather conditions:

Northbound

  • The bridge will be down to one lane of traffic from Tuesday, October 12th through Thursday,  October 14th from 7 PM until 7 AM

Southbound  

  • The bridge will be down to one lane of traffic from Tuesday, October 12th through Friday, October 15th from 7 PM until 7 AM

As always, please drive safely and adhere to posted speed limits, and use extreme caution while navigating work zones. Thank you for your patience and cooperation as our teams work hard to complete this important work

Bridge Update – 10/1/21

Final paving operations on the Piscataqua River (I-95) Bridge in Kittery are scheduled to continue next week. This part of the “Maine Ahead” project remains approximately six weeks ahead of schedule. Final paving had originally been scheduled for early 2022. The contractor, SPS New England, is now planning to make the following traffic changes to accommodate final paving work on the bridge and its approaches.

Northbound:

  • Traffic on the bridge will be reduced to a single lane from Sunday, October 3rd through Thursday, October 7th between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

Southbound:

  • Traffic on the bridge will be reduced to two lanes from 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 3rd through 5:00 a.m. on Monday, October 4th.
  • Traffic on the bridge will be reduced to a single lane from Monday, October 4th through Thursday, October 7th between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

As with all outdoor construction work, this schedule is heavily dependent on the weather. There will be no traffic closures between the morning of Friday, October 8th through the evening of Tuesday, October 12th.

The goal of this project is to improve safety and mobility on Maine’s most important bridge and 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.

This project started in May 2019 and is expected to be finished by May 2022.

Bridge Update – 9/30/21

This week on the Piscataqua River Bridge, the following lane closures are scheduled to take place to accommodate paving work. These closures are subject to change pending weather conditions:

Northbound:

  • The bridge will be down to one lane of traffic from Sunday, October 3rd thru Thursday, October 7th from 8 PM until 7 AM

Southbound:

  • The bridge will be down to two lanes of traffic on Sunday, October 3rd from 11 PM until 5 AM.
  • The bridge will be down to one lane of traffic  from Monday, October 4th thru Friday, October 8th from 8 PM until 7 AM

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as our teams work hard to complete this important work. As always, please drive safely and use extreme caution while navigating work zones and adhere to posted speed limits.

Bridge Update – 9/24/21

KITTERY – The Maine Department of Transportation will be closing the I-95 northbound Exit 7 on-ramp in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for five days next week to accommodate continued paving operations on the Piscatacqua River (I-95) Bridge and its approaches. The Exit 7 on-ramp will close at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 26th and reopen by 7:00 a.m. on Friday, October 1st. There will be a signed detour route and a police presence. This ramp closure is necessary to increase safety for our crews and members of the traveling public.

This part of the “Maine Ahead” project remains approximately six weeks ahead of schedule. Final paving had originally been scheduled for early 2022. The contractor, SPS New England, is also planning to make the following closures to accommodate final paving work on the bridge and its approaches.

The northbound right lane will close during the following periods:

  • 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 26th to 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 29th
  • 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29th to 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 30th
  • 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 30th to 7:00 a.m. on Friday, October 1st

The northbound middle lane will close during the following periods:

  • 11:00 p.m. on Monday, September 27th to 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 28th
  • 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28th to 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 29th

The southbound right lane will close during the following periods:

  • 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 26th to 5:00 a.m. on Monday, September 27th
  • 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 27th to 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 28th
  • 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28th to 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 29th
  • 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29th to 5:00 a.m. on Friday, October 1st
  • 8:00 p.m. on Friday, October 1st to 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 2nd

The southbound middle lane will close during the following periods:

  • 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 27th to 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 28th
  • 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 28th to 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 29th
  • 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 30th to 4:00 a.m. on Friday, October 1st

As with all outdoor construction work, this schedule is heavily dependent on the weather.

The goal of this project is to improve safety and mobility on Maine’s most important bridge and 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.

This project started in May 2019 and is expected to be finished by May 2022.

Bridge Update – 9/14/21

Final Paving on Piscataqua River (I-95) Bridge in Kittery

KITTERY – Final paving operations on the Piscatacqua River (I-95) Bridge in Kittery are scheduled to begin next week. This part of the “Maine Ahead” project remains approximately six weeks ahead of schedule. Final paving had originally been scheduled for early 2022. The contractor, SPS New England, is now planning to make the following closures to accommodate final paving work on the bridge and its approaches.

The northbound left lane will close during the following periods:

  • 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 19th to 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 22nd
  • 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 22nd to 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 23rd
  • 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 23rd to 7:00 a.m. on Friday, September 24th

The northbound middle lane will close at 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21st and reopen by 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 22nd.

The southbound left lane will close during the following periods:

  • 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 19th to 5:00 a.m. on Monday, September 20th
  • 7:00 p.m. on Monday, September 20th to 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 21st
  • 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 21st to 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 22nd
  • 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 22nd to 5:00 a.m. on Friday, September 24th
  • 8:00 p.m. on Friday, September 24th to 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 25th

The southbound middle lane will close at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 23rd and reopen by 4:00 a.m. on Friday, September 24th.

As with all outdoor construction work, this schedule is heavily dependent on the weather.

The goal of this project is to improve safety and mobility on Maine’s most important bridge and 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.

This project started in May 2019 and is expected to be finished by May 2022.

Plaza Project Update – 9/14/21

MTA_YorkPlaza_TrafficShiftAd.3.29.v4

New Open Road Toll Plaza Opening on September 15th – Drivers need to be aware of traffic pattern shifts as the old plaza is removed

Drivers traveling to and through the new southernmost toll plaza on the Maine Turnpike need to be aware of a series of traffic lane pattern changes that will occur once the new toll plaza at Mile 8.8 goes online the morning of September 15.

At 12:01 AM on Wednesday, Maine Turnpike Authority will throw the switch to activate the new, high-tech toll plaza at Mile 8.8 in York. That action will be in synch with deactivating the former York toll plaza a mile and a half south where construction crews will begin dismantling the historic 52-year-old southern gateway to Maine.

At the older York toll plaza, at Mile 7.3, the initial demolition will begin with the toll plaza canopy, removing it in three steps. During this time, lane pattern changes will allow the contractor, Sargent, to remove the entire structure sequentially and safely. During this process, drivers will have to navigate their way through the now dormant tollbooth lanes, and obey a 10-mile-per-hour speed limit to ensure that vehicles can travel through the passageways smoothly.

The speed limit between the old and new toll plazas is also reduced to 55 mph, and wide-loads are prohibited until after September 23.

The three traffic lane arrangements are:

  • STEP ONE
    Southbound traffic will be diverted through the five center tollbooth lanes. Northbound traffic stays to the right driving through the four former tollbooth lanes. DO NOT STOP. All vehicles will then continue on to the new toll plaza 1.5 miles ahead.
  • STEP TWO
    Northbound traffic and vehicles entering the highway via the Spur Road on-ramp will be diverted through the center tollbooth lanes. Southbound traffic stays to the right driving through the five former tollbooth lanes. DO NOT STOP.

  • STEP THREE
    Canopy removal moves to the center lanes. Southbound traffic stays to the right through five outside tollbooth lanes. Northbound traffic stays to the right through four outside tollbooth lanes. DO NOT STOP.

Drivers approaching the old plaza should keep within the orange construction barrels marking the travel lanes and be particularly aware of other vehicles, especially when approaching narrow tollbooth lanes.

Each step will allow workers to safely isolate construction areas and remove the canopy roof above the old tollbooth lanes section by section without interrupting the flow of traffic in either direction.

In Step Three, with traffic now confined to the outside lanes, contractors will remove the center canopy and establish a secure work area in which all of the former toll plaza structures will be cleared away and six new highway lanes will be constructed.

Once those six highway lanes are completed, this configuration will be in place throughout the winter months, and drivers will proceed north and south through this new section at a reduced speed of 55 miles per hour, as workers remove the remaining outside tollbooths.

“We’ve worked side-by-side with our highway engineering team to create a safe and logical sequence of lane changes and deconstruction steps to minimize the inconvenience to turnpike travelers and maximize their safety,” said Erin Courtney, Public Outreach Manager for the Maine Turnpike Authority. “We’re asking all drivers to help us achieve that by driving cautiously and obeying reduced speed limits in this construction zone.”

The toll plaza demolition project, estimated at $12.2 million, was awarded to Sargent Corporation of Stillwater, Maine in July of this year. It is scheduled to be completed in October of 2022.

According to Peter Mills, the Turnpike’s Executive Director, the split-second hand off of responsibility from the former toll plaza to the new facility reflects the technological leap the Maine Turnpike takes with the launch of York’s new toll plaza. “Creating a toll plaza that combines the congestion moderating benefits of six highway-speed tolling lanes and the personal touch of having 24-hour toll booth staff within what was chosen as a safer location in terms of visibility for drivers approaching the plaza, we have a state-of-the-art, safer, and more efficient transportation facility that all of Maine can be proud of,” said Mills. “It’s another, very exciting milestone in the history of the Turnpike.”

The cruise-through, open-road-tolling lanes at the newly built York Toll Plaza bring the number of such facilities on the Maine Turnpike to five with a sixth scheduled to open in West Gardiner later this fall.

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.

Watch the progress!

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