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Southbound Departing Ramp at Exit 32 in Biddeford Closed Tonight

Maine Turnpike: Thinking Ahead FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 06, 2018
Erin Courtney
CONTACT: Dan Morin (MTA)

Court Upholds York Toll Plaza Permits

Barring Further Legal Delays, Construction Expected to Start This Fall

YORK, Maine – The Maine Superior Court has upheld the issuance of environmental permits by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MaineDEP) for the long-awaited highway speed toll plaza in York. This decision represents the latest in a long line of administrative, legislative, and judicial decisions supporting the construction of a modern Open Road Tolling (ORT) plaza in York on the top of a hill about 1 ½ miles north of the existing barrier plaza.

"This a good day for Turnpike travelers and for the State,” said Peter Mills, Executive Director of the Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA). “We have been working for a long time to bring the safety and convenience of highway speed tolling to Maine in a way that avoids toll increases, avoids diversion onto other roads, and minimizes environmental impacts. As expected, the Superior Court decision is consistent with earlier decisions made by the Turnpike, the federal Army Corps of Engineers, the Maine State Legislature, and Maine DEP. They all concluded that the proposed plaza was the way to proceed,” said Mills.

Analysis, design and permitting for a replacement York toll plaza has been ongoing for over a decade. The current barrier plaza was originally designed in the late 1960s for all traffic to stop and pay under a paper ticket system. It was later adapted to E-ZPass with cash lanes but is now well beyond its design life. Electronic equipment is housed in a tunnel that is in need of constant repairs. The plaza is surrounded by wetlands, has approaches sinking into poor soils, and is located at the bottom of a hill on a curve near an exit. It is unsuitable for high speed tolling.

The Turnpike received all required federal and state permits for its planned replacement plaza at Mile 8.8 last year. The new plaza will have three high speed E-ZPass center lanes in each direction and separated lanes to the right where travelers can safely pull over and pay cash at staffed booths.

Town of York, responding to a local group called Think Again, sued the State for issuing permits last fall after a year-long administrative process. At that time, the MTA agreed to delay construction until conclusion of the Superior Court appeal. “ issues at stake have now been fully and fairly heard many times by multiple reviewers. Everyone agrees that Maine citizens, businesses and visitors deserve a new gateway to our State.” Mills said.

Barring unexpected legal action, the MTA expects to advertise for bids this summer with construction to commence in the fall. The 3-year, $40 million project is being developed to minimize traffic disruption. Three lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction during high traffic times. The project is 100% funded by Turnpike users, with over two thirds of toll revenue coming from out-of-state payers.

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