The Maine Turnpike Authority (MTA) has announced that the Turnpike’s Exit 45 (I-95) will be closed over the September 30th weekend and through Monday to allow contractors to complete the transition from the 67-year-old exit to the new Diamond Interchange configuration—a major milestone in the modernization of the highway.
All of Exit 45’s on-ramps and off-ramps will be closed to traffic from 9:00 AM on Friday, September 30 through Monday, October 3, although inclement weather may determine the actual reopening time. Turnpike travelers should plan to use any of the nearby interchanges during the closure.
Highway design engineers had determined that the Exit 45 interchange, originally designed for the Turnpike Portland-Augusta expansion in 1955, could no longer handle the increased traffic volumes of this century. Nor could the older interchange always accommodate the height of today’s commercial trucks, a number of which had unfortunately misjudged the clearance limits of the old overpass carrying traffic across the mainline to and from the southbound lanes.
The changeover will direct entering traffic to new toll plazas, now located on the two on-ramps. After the switch, and for several weeks, all traffic will travel non-stop through the former toll plaza on the Maine Turnpike Approach Road. Later in October, MTA plans to close Exit 45 again when crews will demolish and remove the old barrier toll booths.
When the exit reopens next week drivers will begin navigating the new interchange and should be mindful of new traffic patterns.
Traveling on the Maine Turnpike Approach Road, northbound vehicles will bear right onto a new on-ramp, pay at the toll plaza, and continue north to the Turnpike.
Very little has changed for northbound drivers exiting the Turnpike who will simply turn onto the off-ramp and continue on to the Approach Road.
From the Approach Road, southbound vehicles will cross over the Turnpike and arrive at a new traffic signal where they will turn left onto the ramp, pay at the toll plaza, and continue south to the Turnpike.
Southbound exit traffic will take the Exit 45 off-ramp and then turn left onto the Approach Road at the new traffic signal.
Drivers should also be aware that Exit 45 construction work will continue for several months after the reopening as the contractor dismantles the former overpass and removes the previous on and off ramps. Extra caution is advised when traveling through these work zones.
The new safer, more efficient interchange is a significant step in the Turnpike Authority’s master plan of widening the roadway and bridges from four lanes to six from Mile 44 to Mile 49. After more than six decades and a 1700% increase in traffic, the Portland Area Widening Project will improve this busy stretch through the Portland area.
When the project is completed, drivers will enjoy a safer high-speed roadway, less traffic congestion, and a smoother, more efficient shortcut around Portland.
Moreover, while it enhances safety and mobility, this upgrade of the Turnpike’s capacity should prove beneficial to Maine’s busiest economic region.
Maine Turnpike Authority reminds travelers that scheduling difficult highway work is always weather-dependent and thanks all drivers for their alertness and caution wherever they may travel on the road.
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