Traffic on Industrial Park Road and Route 112 in Saco on Monday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

After years of traffic congestion that has aggravated commuters and caused dangerous backups onto the Maine Turnpike, a new exit in Saco will soon be a reality.

The $42 million project will create a new interchange, Exit 35, leading onto Route 112 in Saco.

Construction will begin this month and the new ramps are expected to open by the end of 2025. The hope is to divert commuters from towns west of Saco, such as Buxton, Hollis and Limington, reducing the burden on Exit 36 – which is also in line for upgrades.

“We’ve heard from members of the community who have had to deal with these traffic woes for years,” said Erin Courtney, spokesperson for the Maine Turnpike Authority. “There are concerns any time you’re building something new, but from a regional perspective a lot of people are really happy about this.”

Sargent Corp. of Old Town, which was awarded the bid last month, will spend much of this year doing earthwork, Courtney said. This spring and summer, the company is expected to work on toll buildings on the northbound side. Next year, the focus will shift across the turnpike to the southbound toll buildings.

The early work is not expected to affect traffic.


It is rare to see new exits added to the turnpike – the last one was in Sabattus in 2004 – but in this case, the need was clear, Courtney said.

Traffic along Route 112 has been a problem since the early 2000s, said Patrick Fox, Saco’s director of public works. But congestion worsened over the past decade.

The corridor is used by locals to get to neighborhoods, the middle school, the transfer station and recreational fields. It’s also heavily used by trucks, including those traveling to and from the Poland Spring facility in Hollis.

As the pace of residential development in smaller towns outside Saco picked up, more commuters have relied on Route 112 and Exit 36 to access the turnpike. That traffic reaches a choke point near the intersection of Route 112 and Industrial Park Road.

Vehicles backed up at the intersection of Industrial Park Road as cars move along Route 112 in Saco Monday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

In the morning, left turns from vehicles traveling east slow commuters, while in the afternoon traffic stacks up behind a traffic light on Industrial Park Road. Nearly 17,000 vehicles use the road daily, according to a recent traffic study.

During the busiest commuting hours, traffic backs up onto the turnpike, creating a major safety issue, Courtney said.


As many as 70,000 cars go through the Saco area each day, she said. It’s the busiest stretch of the turnpike.

Several years ago, the city partnered with the Maine Turnpike Authority and the Maine Department of Transportation to study long-term solutions for improving access to Route 112 and the safety of nearby intersections.

“We want to make sure we’re eliminating any stop-and-go traffic. That’s usually when you have accidents,” Courtney said. “We realized we need to do something to fix this issue.”

On the local level, the city of Saco has adjusted traffic signal timing, lengthened turn lanes, and prohibited left turns in high-crash locations.

“Those improvements could only get us so far without a much larger project,” Fox said.

That project is the new exit, which was planned, designed and funded by the turnpike authority.

While the turnpike work is underway, Saco will take the lead on a $1 million state-funded project to add a traffic light at Jenkins Road. That road, near large residential neighborhoods, currently has a stop sign at the intersection with Route 112. Fox said a traffic signal is needed there to ensure people can still easily get in and out of neighborhoods as turnpike access improves.

“It will not perfectly address every transportation issue we have along the corridor, but it is the most viable project that could be funded right now to see meaningful improvement,” Fox said.

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