Of all the innovative management techniques planned to handle the traffic caused by this summer’s construction work on Interstate 295 in Portland, the best may be the one that gets cars off the road altogether.

The Department of Transportation plans to put up signs encouraging drivers to take the Maine Turnpike around Portland and reconnect with I-295 by using the Falmouth Spur.

That’s a great idea. The highway serves double duty, providing both local access to key city streets and a place for high-speed through traffic for people who will never stop in the city. It would be easier for the construction crews if the second group of cars and trucks found another way to get where they are going.

The Maine Turnpike Authority could help make this happen. During the construction season, the turnpike could close the toll booths on the spur, opening up that part of the road to free travel.

The turnpike’s toll booths discourage people from making this detour, and that will just create more work for the traffic engineers working on I-295 who want to keep the vehicles moving safely. By giving a free option for the cars and trucks that are just passing through Portland, there would be less pressure on workers and other travelers.

The Maine Turnpike Authority should consider easing the pressure this summer.