State transportation officials expect “significant” traffic delays on Interstate 295 northbound this weekend, with a traffic lane in Yarmouth closed for bridge repairs and resurfacing.

The Maine Department of Transportation said the lane closure began Friday night and is expected to continue through noon Monday. The closure leaves only one lane for through traffic on the northbound side of the busy highway.

The lane closure will allow workers to finish repairs to bridge joints and resurface the bridge that crosses the Royal River.

Adding to the potential for traffic tie-ups is the plan to close a lane on an additional stretch of I-295 northbound starting tonight. The highway will be reduced to one lane for about three miles leading to the bridge from 7 tonight through noon Monday for repaving.

Brad Foley, highway program manager for the Department of Transportation, said much of the work on I-295 this summer has been done at night to minimize the impact on traffic. But the work on the bridge required closing a lane for a longer period than overnight, he said.

“This bridge work requires a 24/7 lane closure over a few days to allow the contractors to get the bridge joints done and to lay down a new bridge surface,” said Foley, who suggested that drivers look for alternative routes, such as the Maine Turnpike.

The work is part of a $20 million reconstruction project on I-295 in Greater Portland.

The work on the Royal River bridge was originally scheduled for August, but highway officials changed the schedule so the work could be done after Labor Day.

Crews shut down one lane on the weekend of July 23-25 and planned to shut down the other lane the next weekend. But traffic backed up as much as six miles, to Tukey’s Bridge in Portland, and some drivers were delayed as long as 90 minutes.

The Department of Transportation got so many complaints, including from the tourism industry, that it called off the second weekend of work until after Labor Day.

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: [email protected]