Miles the Moose and Clawdette the Lobster will assist Maine Turnpike workers bid farewell the visitors today at the York Toll Booth. Some lucky visitors will win prizes to take home with them. SUBMITTED PHOTO

PORTLAND, Maine –  This coming Labor Day, drivers traveling southbound through the Maine Turnpike’s York Toll Plaza should not be surprised if approached by a tall, two-legged moose in a fluorescent-yellow safety vest.

That’s Miles, Maine Turnpike’s mascot who will be saying goodbye to this year’s drove of visitors as they head home.  Joined by Poland Spring’s recycling mascot and Clawdette the lobster, Miles will be on hand to help Turnpike employees thank motorists for visiting with some Maine-made goodies.

Now in its 16th year, Maine Turnpike Authority employees celebrate the unofficial end of summer by thanking outbound visitors personally, going from car to car once traffic begins to backup, to hand out small gifts of Maine-made products.

“We started handing out Maine-centric gifts to our southbound customers on Labor Day in 2002,” said Erin Courtney, spokeswoman for the Maine Turnpike. “It’s a great way to say ‘thank-you’ to thousands of our customers and highlight some of Maine’s fantastic products.”

This year’s giveaways will be bottles of Poland Spring® 100% Natural Spring Water and bags of handmade Fox Family Potato Chips for every vehicle.

Fox Family Chips founder, Rhett Fox said, “we are excited to be included in this year’s Labor Day tradition and hope our Maine visitors will be back next summer.”

Stickers on the potato chip bag will also invite visitors to post their favorite Maine vacation photos online with the hashtag #MaineTurnpike for a chance to win a free Maine lobster dinner for four, shipped directly to their door. Turnpike staff members will be monitoring Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to choose a winner at random.

“More important for visitors and residents,” Courtney added, “the Maine Turnpike is 100% dependent on toll revenue for everything we do from road maintenance to snow plowing and implementing highway-speed toll collection technology. Our summer visitors play an enormous role in supporting the work we do, so we appreciate them a lot. We hope they come back soon.”

From Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day, summer visitors contribute two-thirds of the state’s annual tourist industry revenue — some $4 billion in direct tourist spending. The Maine Turnpike Authority estimates that during the summer season, visitors to Maine spend more than $29.1 million in tolls as they travel the Turnpike.

This year’s Labor Day weekend traffic on the Turnpike is again expected to top 1 million transactions (MTA estimates 1.2 million transactions). With more than 349,000 vehicles anticipated, Friday was the busiest day, especially northbound in the late afternoon and early evening as visitors streamed into Maine for the big three-day Labor Day holiday.

Saturday’s northbound traffic was slightly lower in volume than Friday’s, with the bulk of those vehicles threading the York Toll Plaza between 10 a.m. and  p.m.

Monday’s traffic, with about 247,000 vehicles cruising the Maine Turnpike, will be heaviest between noon and 7 p.m.  On a typical Labor Day, more than 3,760 vehicles travel through the York Toll Plaza every hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Turnpike officials advise that starting out early in the morning or later in the evening are the best strategies for motorists hoping to avoid the heaviest traffic over the Labor Day weekend.

The Maine Turnpike Authority is a quasi-state agency created by the Maine Legislature in 1941. When the Maine Turnpike opened in 1947, it became the nation’s second superhighway and the very first to be funded exclusively through the sale of revenue bonds.

While setting standards for maintenance and improvement, the Maine Turnpike continues to be a self-financed operation and does not receive funding from the state or the federal government. Because of its prominence and reputation, it has been designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Maine Turnpike Authority thanks all motorists for their patience during Turnpike improvements, and as always, thank you for driving safely.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: