WATERVILLE — The new $5 million Trafton Road interchange on Interstate 95 in the southern part of the city is drawing more truck and car traffic to the area, as well as interest from companies seeking to add a Trafton Road delivery and shipping address.

Funded by federal, state and private money, the full interchange at mile 124, which includes northbound and southbound on and off ramps, opened in mid-July.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Transportation is planning to rebuild Trafton Road to accommodate the changes and increased traffic. Officials said they hope to hold a meeting in October to notify the public about funding and a schedule for road work.

While statistics on the number of vehicles using Trafton Road and the interchange are not available, businesses, city officials and those who live in the area say that many more people are traveling Trafton Road to enter and exit I-95 at the interchange.

People from Winslow who typically drive through Waterville and on Kennedy Memorial Drive to get to I-95 are now crossing Carter Memorial Bridge from Winslow into Waterville, crossing Abenaki Road and driving south on West River Road to get to Trafton Road.

“I don’t have any traffic data yet. I’m sure that will be forthcoming,” said Garvan Donegan, senior economic development specialist with the Central Maine Growth Council, based in Waterville. “But now, anecdotally, I do think folks are using it and finding it convenient.”

Donegan said companies working in the areas of logistics and transportation, precision manufacturing, construction, marine technology and aquaculture, environmental services and energy are expressing interest in moving to the area where Trafton Properties, which provided major funding for the interchange, already has a building that is fully occupied with businesses at the corner of Trafton and West River roads.

That 227,000-square-foot building is the former Wyandotte Mill.

Trafton Properties, which owns 921 acres in Sidney and Waterville, received approval Aug. 7 from the city’s Planning Board to build next to the former mill a 120,000-square-foot commercial building to house new businesses.

“I think that shows confidence in the potential of Trafton Road, and 977 West River Road is 100 percent occupied,” Donegan said. “They’re just kind of exploding at the seams over there.”

The building’s owner anticipates having six tenants who might use the space for warehousing, storage and possibly light manufacturing, she said.

The interchange project was funded by Trafton Properties, which pitched in $1.81 million plus engineering and other costs, a $1 million federal Economic Development Administration grant and $2 million from the state DOT.

The idea from the start was to have the interchange take pressure off Kennedy Memorial Drive, which is congested with traffic, including trucks entering and exiting I-95. Before the Trafton Road interchange was built, trucks traveled north on West River Road past Thomas College and entered I-95 via Kennedy Memorial Drive more than 5 miles away.

Mike Fortin, owner of Fortin’s Home Furnishings on Augusta Road in Winslow, said some of his employees now cross over the Carter Bridge to West River Road to head to Trafton Road and the interchange, whereas formerly they traveled a different route to get to I-95.

“I believe my trucks that would normally go down West River Road and jump on (I-95) in Sidney are now jumping on the new interchange,” Fortin said. “I do it personally when I leave here.”

He said the interchange is convenient and enables drivers to avoid going through the several traffic lights on Kennedy Memorial Drive, which can mean a lot of stopping and starting.

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

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