A heavily traveled section of I-295 in Portland near Tukey’s Bridge will be closed for four days in October to allow crews to replace the aging Veranda Street bridge.

The Maine Department of Transportation announced three years ago that the 60-year-old bridge would be replaced and traffic disrupted for a brief period. But it wasn’t until Monday that the MDOT announced the exact dates of the closure for the $20.8 million project.

In a news release, transportation officials said the four-lane highway would be closed from 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, through 2 p.m., Monday, Oct. 25. Veranda Street, which runs under the I-295 bridge, will also be closed from 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, through 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 25.

“Maine DOT will be conducting significant public outreach efforts in the coming months about these closures and the detours that will be available to drivers,” the agency said.

An average of 53,000 vehicles traveled over the bridge each day prior to the pandemic.  The bridge was built in 1961 and the MDOT rates the deck condition as poor and the bridge overall as structurally deficient, which means major repair or replacement is needed.

The bridge over Veranda Street is about a half-mile north of Tukey’s Bridge, which carries traffic over the mouth of Back Cove. Route 1 traffic entering Portland from Falmouth and Martin’s Point Health Care must go under the bridge to reach Veranda Street or to gain access to the highway.

While divided highways normally require building two replacement bridges, the new Veranda Street bridge will be built in one piece, with a single platform for the north and southbound lanes. Construction crews will build the replacement on the east side of the existing bridge. The new structure will be slid into place during the interstate closure.

The accelerated bridge construction process should “greatly reduce the length of time needed for this project. That will save money and reduce traffic impacts,” the MDOT said.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, slide-in bridge construction is a relatively new process that allows states to reduce the amount of on-site construction time needed to replace bridges.

Cianbro, general contractor on the project, had been given until May 1 to select the dates for closing the highway. The project should be completed by the end of 2022.

The new bridge is expected to last 100 years.

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