The on- and off-ramps at Exit 7 on I-295 at Franklin Street will be reduced to one lane during the daytime for the next five weeks starting Thursday and closed at night the week of June 20, Portland city officials say. The work is part of a citywide effort to reduce the amount of sewer water that washes into Casco Bay, streams and rivers when stormwater runoff overwhelms the city’s wastewater system. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Weekday traffic through a busy Interstate 295 interchange in Portland will be restricted for the next five weeks as part of a massive sewer project near Back Cove, city officials said Tuesday.

And the Franklin Street interchange at Exit 7 will be closed completely during overnight hours for the week of June 20. The overnight closures will begin at 7 p.m.

The daytime restrictions begin Thursday and are sure to slow traffic through an interchange that already backs up with traffic heading to and from downtown Portland. During the daytime work, entrance and exit ramps connecting the interstate to Franklin Street will be reduced to one lane.

The traffic restrictions are part of the city’s long-running effort to separate old sewer and stormwater collection systems.

The work, mandated by an agreement with the city and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, is part of a citywide effort to reduce the amount of sewage-contaminated water that washes into Casco Bay, streams and rivers whenever stormwater runoff floods into storm drains and overwhelms the city’s wastewater system.

The project involves the construction of four huge underground concrete storage tanks near Back Cove that are capable of holding 3.5 million gallons of sewer and stormwater.


The tanks will hold raw sewage and the initial rush of stormwater during heavy rains. The initial rainfall carries the highest concentration of pollution and that water and sewage will be held in the tanks until it can be pumped to the East End treatment plant, where the water will be treated and contaminants removed before the water is discharged into the cove.

The Exit 7 interchange is one of the city’s busiest, with northbound and southbound exits and northbound and southbound entrance ramps. It connects with Franklin Street, which runs east-west across the peninsula, and also provides access to Marginal Way.

About 25,000 cars use the interchange daily, according to the Maine Department of Transportation’s website.

The I-295 exit and entrances to the interstate from Franklin Street will be reduced by one lane starting Thursday and closed at night, warned Portland city officials. Staff photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Portland officials said message boards carrying information about the lane closures will be installed around the work area and motorists may be rerouted. Congress Street and Cumberland Avenue are recommended as routes to take to avoid the intersection and connect with I-295 at Forest Avenue.

Drains and pipes have been installed to connect with new stormwater storage tanks located under the Preble Street playing fields, but additional drainage, curbing, guardrails and pavement need to be installed, requiring lane closings, city officials said. The city has spent more than $100 million on the stormwater separation project, but it will be nearly completed once the work around Back Cove is wrapped up.

Jessica Grondin, the city’s spokeswoman, said the work on the project has required Portland to close parts of the Exit 7 ramps in the past, most notably more than a year ago, when the interchange was closed on and off for about three weeks.


During the nighttime closures next month, the intersection of Marginal Way and Franklin Street will be closed in all directions except for those turning right from Marginal Way onto Franklin Street. Grondin said that’s to accommodate a Metro bus route.


Iggy Tarajos, a manager of Play it Again Sports on Marginal Way, said he had not heard about the plans to close down part of the interchange until contacted by a reporter Tuesday.

“That’s not good. It’s unfortunate” Tarajos said.

He said the previous closing of the interchange caused problems and a lot of people called the store to get suggestions for how to drive there while avoiding Exit 7.

“It was definitely tougher for people to come (during the prior closure) because of people getting stuck in traffic,” he said. “Five weeks is a pretty long stretch, but I think our customer base is pretty resilient.”

Sam Lewis, store manager for Portland Mattress Makers on nearby Fox Street, said the lane closings “will probably pose some issues for some people” and might disrupt the store’s delivery trucks.

“It is what it is, but it won’t be anything too new,” he said. “They’re usually ripping something up.”

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