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 – 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.

Bridge Update – 10/19/20

Fall is officially here, and with reduced traffic on the Maine Turnpike and the Piscataqua River Bridge, our team can spend more time getting needed repairs accomplished. This means that you might see more lane closures during specific times – always with an eye toward keeping traffic moving as smoothly as possible while also keeping our workers safe. Beginning Monday, October 19th, at 6:00 a.m., the right, northbound travel lane will be closed over the Piscataqua River Bridge to accommodate shoulder widening and paving. This closure is expected to last approximately two to three weeks. Also, please remember to use additional caution at  Exit 7 in New Hampshire as traffic merges onto the bridge.

Bridge Update – 7/13/20

All six lanes will be open on the Piscataqua River Bridge for at least the next two weeks. Remember: if you’re visiting Maine, please make sure to go to www.maine.gov/covid19/ for details on testing and self-quarantine guidelines for out-of-state visitors.

Plaza Project Update – 2/19/21

Contractor:    Reed & Reed, Inc.

structural steel
North Bound canopy structural steel is in place. Crews should install decking in the near future.

Bid Amount: $ 39,484,431

Percent Complete last approved pay estimate: 80.3 %

Project Schedule: Completion date June 21, 2021.

Contractor Schedule: Reed & Reed’s 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. The earth work sub-contractor has mobilized off the site until spring weather arrives. Mechanical contractors are up fitting the booths with heat and air conditioning and are also running service lines to these systems as well from the controls inside the tunnel. TransCore, the tolling contractor, has been installing pieces of the tolling system alongside Reed & Reed electricians as they make progress towards integrating and completing the electrical and tolling systems. Over the winter months Reed & Reed’s crews and sub-contractors will continue placing concrete around the new toll booths, building the canopies, installing conduits, wiring, lighting, and highway signs. Once warmer weather arrives, crews will shift to finishing the remaining earthwork in preparation for paving the cash lanes.

Plaza Project Update – 1/2/21

Contractor Schedule:  Reed & Reed continue to build the outer cash lanes and booths both north and south bound.  Their electricians continue to run wire and make connections to the new booths and inside the tunnel.  RJ Grondin has been assisting with the cash lane construction, excavating for storm water ponds, and prepping the site for median barrier. Paving should resume in mid-April, if the weather conditions are favorable.  Reed & Reed looks to complete this project by mid-June, depending on the weather conditions this spring.

Toll Plaza Construction

Plaza Project Update – 12/11/20

Contractor:    Reed & Reed, Inc.

Project Schedule: Completion date June 21, 2021.

Contractor Schedule:  Reed & Reed crews swapped over to phase III of the project in mid-October.  Since then, crews have been working in the new work areas.  Reed & Reed forces have been building the outer cash lanes and booths both north and south bound.  They’ve had electricians running wire and making connections to the new booths and the tunnel.  RJ Grondin has been working on removing temporary pavement from phase II, assisting with the cash lane construction, digging trenches for highway lighting conduit, installing median drainage, and prepping the site for median barrier.  Pike Industries recently stopped paving for the year due to winter work restrictions.  Up until then, they had been milling and shimming main line and cash lane locations, bringing the grades and cross slopes up to the new design requirements.  Reed & Reed looks to complete this project by mid-June, if the spring weather is favorable.

Plaza Project Update – 10/9/20

Lighting above the highway
Northbound ORT lanes with striping. The contractor is hooking up lighting in the background.

Contractor:    Reed & Reed, Inc.                                 Bid Amount: $ 39,484,431

Project Schedule: Completion date June 21, 2021.

Contractor Schedule:  The contractor continues to set light poles and hook up lights along the Open Road Toll (ORT) or high-speed lanes prior to opening them up for traffic.  Their sub-contractor, Pike Industries, continues to place surface pavement along the northern end of the project within the ORT lanes as well.  Many locations have been striped for the next phase’s traffic pattern.  TransCore wrapped up the commissioning or testing of the high-speed lanes the first week in October.  This will allow the contractor to swap the project into Phase III.  The contractor anticipates that this will happen the week of October 18th. During Phase III, traffic will travel through the ORT lanes while the cash lanes are being constructed.  At the same time along the southern end of the project, traffic will be shifted to the outside lanes.  This provides space within the median for the barrier to be constructed.  The project will stay in this phase throughout the winter. Tolls will not be collected through the ORT lanes, they will still be collected at the current York Toll Plaza.

Plaza Project Update – 8/28/20

Toll booth progress
Phase 2 North-bound cash lane toll booths are starting to take shape. Lane 7 shown

Contractor: Reed & Reed, Inc.

Bid Amount: $ 39,484,431

Project Schedule: Completion date June 21, 2021.

Contractor Schedule: Crews continue to work on the cash lanes and toll booths outside the ORT while prep work and layout for surface paving inside the ORT lanes begins. The paving sub-contractor has been paving the widening areas in preparation for phase 3 traffic control, south of the new toll plaza. This will include traffic being shifted to the outer lanes while crews install drainage and concrete median barriers during the fall and winter months. TransCore is working on the commissioning of the newly installed ORT hardware. They have done several test runs and are currently making adjustments to improve accuracy before running additional tests.

Watch the progress!

Sign up for Traffic Alerts from MyTrips New England 511.

Sign Up