Aerial view of the I-295 Veranda Street Bridge. Contributed / MaineDOT

A 64-hour closure of Interstate 295 around Exit 9 in Portland and the weeklong shutdown of Route 1 in that area to replace the Veranda Street bridge will cause some major traffic detours in October, especially in Falmouth.

As part of MaineDOT’s “Veranda Plan,”  I-295 between Bucknam Road in Falmouth and Washington Avenue in Portland will be fully closed from 7 p.m. Oct. 22 to 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 25. Veranda Street/U.S. Route 1 under the bridge will be closed to all vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists from 2 p.m. Oct. 18 to 2 p.m. Oct.  25 for road improvements, including new traffic signals, sidewalks and bike lanes.

“We’re using accelerated bridge construction, which I think of it a bit like ripping off the Band-Aid because we’re going to replace the bridge deck in a matter of a few days, as opposed to months or years,” said MDOT Director of Communications Paul Merrill. “But what this means is that during that weekend we have to close the interstate for up to 64 hours.”

The new bridge is being constructed separately and once the old bridge is removed, the new bridge will be put in place.

Falmouth Town Manager Nathan Poore said that while the construction will directly impact residents who live in the immediate area, pretty much everyone will feel the effects of the closure.

“I think everyone is going to have this be an impact. It will trickle out everywhere,” said Poore. “We have been communicating to all residents, not just the ones local to that area.”

Various detours will bring traffic to Bucknam Road, Route 9, Middle Road and Route 1 in Falmouth.

Looking west at the I-295 Veranda Street Bridge construction site. Contributed / MaineDOT

Detour routes may also impact emergency personnel responses, but Poore says that all local emergency response teams, including police and fire, are prepared.

“We are ready. We have multiple additional staff in our police department, our dispatch communications and in Fire EMS,”  Poore said. “With this added traffic there may be some more frustrations, there could be a few fender benders, so there may be a need for a police officer to direct traffic.”

Falmouth’s Education and Outreach Coordinator Erin Cadigan said pedestrians should also be cautious.

“Those who usually use the sidewalks in that area should really be aware of the increased traffic, noise and congestion,” Cadigan said. “Avoid recreating on those roads during the closures. If you have to, wear reflective gear and be very vigilant.”

Poore also said that the construction should not effect school bus routes. However, if the construction does end up going until the morning of  Oct. 25, Falmouth schools are aware that their buses may need to seek alternate routes or adjust their schedule.

About 12,000 vehicles a day pass over the 60-year-old Veranda Street bridge, Merrill said. Due to the age and high usage, it was simply time to replace it.

“It’s approaching the end of it’s useful life and replacing is better than trying to constantly repair,” Merrill said.

During the interstate closure, crews will be using a Self-Propelled Modular Transporter for the first time. The transporter moves objects that are too heavy for trucks and is used by NASA to move parts for space shuttles. Merrill says SPMTs are not any more dangerous than any other equipment on a construction site, but they will help accelerate the construction process.

 

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