Drivers accustomed to reaching the northbound lanes of the Maine Turnpike from the Falmouth spur will have to find alternative routes for the next year or so. The Exit 52 on-ramp was scheduled to close at 5 this morning as part of a major construction project.

The Presumpscot River Bridge, immediately north of the ramp, will be rebuilt and widened. The project will affect drivers who use the spur connecting Interstate 295 and the turnpike, notably commuters who live in the Lewiston-Auburn area and work in Greater Portland.

The Maine Turnpike Authority considered options to keep the ramp open during construction, but decided against them for safety reasons.

In choosing to close the on-ramp, planners determined that traffic is relatively light on the ramp — about 1,500 vehicles a day. They also concluded that many northbound drivers could take other routes, including getting on the turnpike farther south, at exits 44 through 48. Paradee said those routes are about equal in driving time.

Besides making the job safer, closing the ramp will allow the $6.5 million bridge project to be completed in 18 months, rather than 27 months.

All other entry and exit ramps at Exit 52 will remain open.

The project is one of several highway improvements being made this summer in Greater Portland.

A $20 million project on I-295 from Freeport to Scarborough includes paving, bridge and guardrail upgrades. Much of the work is being done at night, to minimize traffic problems.

Drivers will find a single lane overnight this week in Yarmouth, for paving north of Exit 17. The work will be suspended Thursday morning until Sunday night, for the Yarmouth Clam Festival.

Beginning late on July 23, one lane of the bridge across the Royal River will be closed until noon on July 26, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.

 

Staff Writer Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at: [email protected]