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PORTLAND, Maine – Officials from the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) announced today that construction crews are scheduled to start the first phase of building Maine’s newest, E-ZPass Open Road Tolling (ORT) facility off Maine Turnpike Exit 44 in Scarborough next week. The contractor for the project is Reed and Reed of Woolwich, Maine, which won the competition to build the plaza with its low bid of $17.4 million.
The new toll plaza will be located just north of the existing toll plaza and southerly of I-295 Exit 1. It will include four ORT lanes (two in each direction), which provide E-ZPass customers the convenience of cruising through at highway speeds while sensors collect the toll electronically. ORT also allows those who want or need to pay cash to do so safely by pulling to the right to staffed toll booths.
Further, ORT significantly improves motorist safety with improved traffic flow and a reduced risk of rear-end collisions. The technology also has environmental benefits thanks to reduced air emissions.
“This new ORT plaza, the fourth on the Maine Turnpike, is among the high technology improvements that, step by step, will bring Maine’s most vital highway up to par with the most sophisticated highway systems in the country,” said Peter Mills, MTA Executive Director. “It’s quite fitting that we continue to modernize as we celebrate the seventieth year of the opening of New England’s first “superhighway” in 1947.”
The other three ORT plazas in Maine are located on I-95 in New Gloucester and West Gardiner, and on the Falmouth Spur off Exit 52.
Motorists can continue to use the existing Exit 44 Toll Plaza throughout the construction project. Mills added, “We have come up with a strategic construction plan that will minimize traffic interruptions by maintaining two open travel lanes in each direction, which mirrors the existing travel pattern.”
Because the Turnpike puts a high value on preserving mobility for customers, the project will be done in four phases over the next three construction seasons, with completion scheduled for summer 2019.
Phase 1: Roadway widening
Widening of I-295’s northbound and southbound lanes for the construction of paved, temporary lanes and the beginning of construction for the administrative building, parking area, access road, and snowplow turnaround.
Phase 2: ORT and Tunnel Construction
Redirecting the two southbound and two northbound lanes around an interior work zone to allow the contractor to build the ORT lanes, partial construction of the concrete median barrier separating the ORT lanes and the cash lanes, ORT space frame and foundations, and partial construction of the utilities tunnel beneath the toll plaza.
Phase 3: Cash Lanes Construction
Completing the northbound and southbound cash lanes, access road, administrative building, and parking area. Testing of the ORT lanes will likely require short-term closures of the existing cash lanes and proposed ORT lanes.
Phase 4: Demolition of Existing Facility
Removal of the old toll plaza, the existing MTA utility building, and parking area.
For additional information about the project, visit the Exit 44 ORT project page on the Maine Turnpike's website.
While this plan should minimize impacts on travelers using I-295, Turnpike officials noted that drivers going to or coming from the points north of Portland can also use the Falmouth Spur between Turnpike Exit 52 and I-295 Exit 11. This route is essentially the same distance as using I-295, but is usually faster and easier.
The Maine Turnpike Authority is one of the 38 tolling agencies participating in the 16-state E-ZPass network. With more than 30 million toll transponders in use, the E-ZPass network operates the largest, most successful toll interoperability network in the world, collecting over $10 billion in annual toll revenues. In addition to Maine, the network offers the convenience of electronic toll collection at toll highways and bridges throughout the northeastern United States and as far west as Indiana and as far south as North Carolina.
The Maine Turnpike Authority is a quasi-state agency created by the Maine Legislature in1941. When the Maine Turnpike opened in 1947, it became the nation’s second superhighway and the very first to be funded exclusively through the sale of revenue bonds. While setting standards for maintenance and service, the Maine Turnpike continues to be a financed entirely by users and does not receive state or federal funding. The Maine Turnpike has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Maine Turnpike Authority thanks all motorists for their patience during Turnpike improvements, and as always, thank you for staying alert and focusing on the road when in work zones.