It is impossible to speculate if these construction projects will impact Maine’s tourism economy. Remember: many visitors travel by air. We do encourage all Mainers, not just those in the hospitality industry, to take that extra moment to thank visitors for coming and welcome them to Maine, knowing that it will be a little bit more difficult getting here over the next couple of years. However, when all is said and done, Maine will have a truly exceptional gateway that will make traveling to the state easier for years to come. The bridge and tollbooth projects will ultimately make getting to Maine (or getting home) easier, faster, and safer.
We are encouraging drivers to stay on the I-95 bridge! We also want them to pay attention to the interstate message boards and follow Maine Ahead News on Facebook and Twitter for updates. We want to discourage drivers from diverting to local community streets and backroads so that we can keep the streets in these local communities safe and accessible for the people who live there. Although we plan to stress this message, we know that certain drivers will seek alternative routes. Our past research indicates that about 23 percent of them will.
No, toll costs will remain the same once the replacement project is complete. The goal is to create high-speed tolling to make access easier and keep traffic flowing.
Yes, MaineDOT and MTA are meeting with state police, local fire departments and first responders at every major phase of construction to provide updates on what is closed and what is open. We plan to work closely with all safety personnel to ensure they have access to the area. We also plan to have the State Farm Safety patrol vehicle monitoring the eight-mile stretch of construction Friday through Sunday (11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) to help travelers.
MaineDOT weighed the cost of building a new bridge, but the cost would likely be ten times higher than what it will cost to make the necessary upgrades to the existing structure. Additionally, it is important to note that the bridge, during this construction project, is also being primed for a possible Intelligent Transportation System (ITS), which may allow existing breakdown lanes to be converted into fourth travel lanes (in both directions) to help ease traffic flow during peak travel times. MaineDOT plans to start that effort once the final resurfacing and work is complete in 2022.
Generally, drivers should plan for delays at any time. To mitigate delays, the bridge will have three lanes open as usual during peak travel months (May to October), but those lanes will be narrower. We ask that drivers think safety first — for workers, for drivers, for everyone — and slow down. The speed limit on the bridge will be reduced to 55 mph. Speeding fines are double in work zones. We also ask that all drivers stay on the bridge at all times and not divert to local towns and backroads. Travel time signs will give time updates on I-95. Travelers can sign up for real-time traffic alerts from MyTripsNewEngland 511 by visiting buildingabettergateway.com. People can also check the MTA traffic cam at www.maineturnpike.com/Traveler-Services/Traffic-Cams.aspx, tune into MTA radio at 1610 AM during specific incidents and follow “Maine Ahead News” on Facebook and Twitter to get updates.
Drivers should plan for delays at any time. We anticipate congestion, especially during certain work periods and peak travel months (May to October). Below is an overview of construction phases for the York Toll Plaza and Piscataqua River Bridge projects:
York Toll Plaza:
We realize it is critically important to keep travelers and commuters in the loop on progress. To help eliminate confusion, MaineDOT and MTA are collaborating and streamlining communications about the two projects. All communications for both projects will be centralized under “Maine Ahead: Building a Better Gateway,” which will include a website with a traffic alert sign-up system, and social media channels to follow for updates related to these projects. In addition to their existing travel alert subscriptions and social media interests travelers are encouraged to:
We recognize it is challenging that these two projects are happening at the same time, but we are asking the public to think of it like ripping off a bandage. You don’t want to do it because you know it’s going to hurt a little, but in the end, it’s the easiest and best way forward. It will ultimately be good for Maine. The benefit of a simultaneous timeline will minimize the long-term impact to drivers and help our state grow. A staggered approach for the two projects would mean construction and congestion over a much longer period of time.
Once this modernization effort is complete, Mainers and visitors will benefit from the following:
In the contract for the bridge, financial incentives have been put in place for early completion as well as penalty fees should work be required beyond the set substantially complete date of May 20, 2022.
The project is funded by MaineDOT, New Hampshire DOT, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Maine Turnpike Authority.
The bridge will be under construction from spring 2019 until spring 2022, with a tentative completion date of May 2022.
The construction contract value is $53 million. The estimated total cost for the bridge is $61.8 million. That amount includes all engineering, state police coverage, public communications, and contingency.
The contractor for the Piscataqua River Bridge project is SPS New England based in Salisbury, MA. The contractor was selected in February 2019, following a competitive bid process.
Yes, the Piscataqua River Bridge is safe; however, it is almost 50 years old. This is one of Maine’s most important bridges and the critical artery connecting Maine and New Hampshire. Every day, 74,000 vehicles cross the southbound and northbound lanes of the bridge, and in the summer that daily traffic can climb to 130,000 cars and trucks. Because of its age and the high volume of daily traffic the bridge receives, it is simply time to make repairs and improvements. When the 4,500 feet-long bridge was constructed in 1972, its engineers envisioned a 100-year lifespan. What we do today will simply preserve and extend the life of this extremely valuable structure.
Improvements are being made to the bridge. An overview of the work to be done includes:
The project is completely funded through revenue from tolls. The York Toll Plaza generates
$56 million in tolls each year. It is the toll plaza in the state that generates the most revenue.
The estimated total cost of this infrastructure project is $39 million.
Initial work began in November 2018. The anticipated completion date is June 2021.
The contractor for the York Toll Plaza replacement project is Reed & Reed, Inc. based in Woolwich, Maine. The contractor was selected in October 2018, following a competitive bid process. A contractor for the removal of the old toll plaza has not yet been selected.
During the entire project there will ONLY be 42 days when there will be less than 3 lanes open.
The York Toll Plaza is being replaced and the old structure is being removed. The new toll plaza will be located at mile 8.8 (instead of mile 7.3) and feature the addition of new electronic highway-speed EZ- Pass lanes (six – three in each direction), allowing motorists to travel without stopping and making travel more efficient. Additional facts pertaining to York Toll Plaza Replacement Project: