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Neighbors & Abutters

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Understanding Roadway Clear Zones


The Maine Turnpike occupies a right of way that is generally 300 feet wide. This leaves about 105 feet from the edge of pavement to the edge of Turnpike property in most locations. Maine is the most forested state in the nation. Trees inevitably grow on Turnpike property over time. Although trees can be beautiful, the periodic clearing of trees to create clear zones along the highway is essential to assure the safety of motorists for three key reasons:

1) Fewer Deadly Fixed Objects
2) Less Shade Means Less Ice and Salt
3) Better Visibility Means Fewer Wildlife Crashes




Fewer Fixed Deadly Objects  
Regrettably, motorists sometimes leave the roadway. They may slide on black ice, hydroplane during rain  storms, fall asleep late at night, veer off to avoid an animal, or careen off in a collision. Whatever the reason, hitting a tree can turn an inconvenient accident into injury or death. Running into trees and other “deadly fixed objects” is the number one cause of traffic accident deaths in Maine.

Less Shade Means Less Ice and Salt

Obviously, one of the great benefits of trees in the summer is shade. In the winter, however, shade creates ice. All Maine drivers know how treacherous ice is, but they may not think about how effective simple sunlight can be to melt it. Without sunlight, more salt is required, which is costly and detrimental to the environment.

Better Visibility Means Fewer Crashes with Wildlife
A wider clear zone along highways gives motorists a better chance to see moose, deer, and other animals before they enter the road. On a high-speed Interstate like the Turnpike, this can make a life and death difference for both animals and drivers.


How This May Impact You

For reasons explained above, the Maine Turnpike must often clear trees from land close to the road. It is a matter of public safety. Sometimes the aesthetic result is not pleasing and sometime adjoining landowners prefer to see the trees remain. However, the safety of Turnpike travelers is the most important concern.
To replace these trees, it is sometimes possible to plant smaller evergreens or shrubs to provide a visual buffer for nearby property owners. Small, dense evergreens do not create harmful obstructions within the “clear zone” and they may help to hold back wind-driven snow from the highway. Although some people argue that foliage provides a sound barrier, it has been our experience that the presence or absence of trees or shrubs has little or no impact on sound transmission.

Not all soils are suitable for such growth and it may take years for new plants to mature to the point where they provide an effective screen. If any affected landowners have suggestions for the Turnpike’s annual planting program, they are welcome to call the Right of Way Department at Turnpike Headquarters.

Turnpike trees are cut either by our maintenance forces or by independent contractors. If you have questions about a clearing project or the annual planting program, feel free to contact the Turnpike Right of Way Department at (207) 482-8350.

This information is for our neighbors and other affected property owners in the vicinity of our improvement projects.  Here you will find an overview of our policies regarding acquisition of rights to construct our projects. It is the mission of the Turnpike to provide the highest quality of construction, at a reasonable cost, with the least impact to adjacent properties and our patrons.


The Maine Turnpike Authority's (MTA) priorities in acquisition of property are to respect all landowners whom which we deal with, to follow all applicable laws and regulations, and to acquire property through a negotiated purchase, rather than the use of the power of eminent domain.

Respect for Property Owners

The MTA will strive to ensure that Landowners are fully informed of the acquisition process and their rights in that process, and that they are satisfied with the responsiveness of MTA personnel in their communications. This will be done by the following means:

Project Development
  1. Property that may be required for a project will be determined through professional property research and data collection regarding the boundaries of each potential acquisition.
  2. Project design will strive to minimize overall property impacts through adjustments that are deemed practicable.
  3. Property owners will be provided with the draft project schedule and information, and will be kept informed of  progress and important issues throughout the duration of the project.
  1. Contact with property owners will first be made by letter.  If no response is received within a reasonable time, we will attempt to contact by phone.
  2. The MTA Right of Way agent will make all reasonable efforts to personally meet with all property owners at the property owner’s convenience, as soon as possible after first contact with the property owner.  During this meeting the property owner will be acquainted with the project in general, any property or property rights that may be required from them for the project, and any other impacts that the project might have upon their property.

Offer of Just Compensation and Negotiation

MTA will prepare and present an offer of Fair Market Value as determined by a Certified Maine Appraiser.  For the acquisition of temporary rights, easements or fee acquisitions that are determined by the Right of Way department to be de minimus, an appraisal will not be done initially to determine the preliminary offer.

MTA always attempts to acquire property by negotiation initially.  Land Owners that feel the offer presented by MTA is unfair are encouraged to make a counter offer.  This is usually presented in the form of an appraisal by a Maine Certified Appraiser.  The value of the property is determined through the appraisal process by Fair Market Value, which is the most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller each acting prudently and knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus.

Eminent Domain

If negotiations cannot produce a mutually agreeable compensation for the property acquired,  MTA will acquire the necessary land by condemnation, or Eminent Domain. Please refer to the MTA Property Acquisition Policy  regarding this process.

All property acquisition by MTA is done in accordance with applicable Federal and State law.
The Maine Turnpike Authority regularly receives requests for land that appears to be excess property. Please refer to the MTA Excess Property Disposition Policy for Maine Turnpike Authority’s position on the disposition of rights in Real Property deemed excess by the Maine Turnpike Authority and the procedure for its disposal. Disposition of real property shall be undertaken in conformance with the legislative findings of Title 23, part 1 State Highway Law, chapter 24 Maine Turnpike, and chapter 3, subchapter 1, subsection 73 Transportation Policy.

Application for Interest in Authority Property
The MTA uses the established MTA Noise Policy guidelines to determine the need, feasibility, and reasonableness of noise abatement or reduction measures along existing highways or proposed highway construction projects. This policy is based on established principles, practices, and procedures used by federal and state transportation agencies to assess highway-related noise levels.

MTA will review this policy every three years and adopt appropriate revisions when necessary. The MTA will also consider revisions to this policy whenever federal or state statutory, regulatory or policy changes make such a review appropriate.