Damage to a utility building and revised demolition scheduling will delay completion of the new Maine Turnpike toll plaza in York by about three months.

The $39.5 million construction project was initiated in 2018 to relocate the state’s busiest toll plaza about a mile and a half north of the existing one. The plaza, which includes high-speed electronic overhead tolling and cash booths, was supposed to be finished this month.

Delays related to the coronavirus pandemic and issues with some of the ventilation equipment in an access tunnel under the highway meant the June date would likely not have been met, said turnpike authority Communications Director Erin Courtney.

Boilers that broke after installation, damaging the floor and ceiling of a newly constructed utility building, delayed completion of the project even further, Courtney said.

“Even though construction may look done, there are some things behind the scenes that have to happen to finish up the plaza,” she said.

Timing the demolition of the old toll plaza also presented issues, the authority said. Tearing down the structure would mean dramatic lane shifts and slower traffic, likely leading to congestion during the height of summer travel.

The turnpike recorded about 940,000 toll transactions over Memorial Day weekend this year, a 66 percent increase from 2020 and nearing the record high set in 2019.

Considering the resumption of busy highway traffic, the turnpike authority determined it would be better to finish demolition and fully open the new toll plaza after Labor Day, Courtney said.

“We don’t want to open it up until everything is complete, but even so, we won’t want to open up our busiest plaza and have potential conflicts with construction presenting issues to the traveling public,” she said.

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