A multimillion-dollar federal grant will pay for construction of a new Interstate 295 offramp, a pedestrian and bike bridge and other projects intended to improve access to the Roux Institute campus in Portland’s East Deering neighborhood.

The Maine Department of Transportation received the $25 million grant amid persistent concerns in the neighborhood about increased traffic in and out of Northeastern University’s new Roux campus.

The plan includes several changes to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic patterns.

Artist renderings for the Roux Institute campus at the site of the former B&M Baked Beans factory in East Deering.  Rendering by CambridgeSeven

The new offramp at exit 8 on I-295 will allow for direct access to Roux via Sherwood Street and divert traffic away from other neighborhood streets.

The plan also includes a pedestrian and bike bridge that would run parallel to Tukey’s Bridge and connect the Portland peninsula and East Deering.

DOT and the city also plan to extend the Back Cove trail so it connects to the new pathway bridge.


There are several other aspects of the project intended to allow commuters to move more easily between the peninsula and East Deering without needing a car, such as updates to existing foot and bike paths on Sherwood Street and the Back Cove system, and a new bicycle lane on Washington Avenue.

DOT expects construction will begin around 2028 and end around 2031. The Roux Institute is slated to open in 2027.

Maine DOT, along with the city of Portland and the Initiative for Digital Engineering and Life Sciences, submitted the original grant proposal for $25 million back in February.

Several leaders and community organizations promptly sent letters of support to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, including Gov. Janet Mills, Sen. Susan Collins, the Portland Police Department and Northeastern University.

“East Deering is an iconic Portland neighborhood that boasts historic residences and beautiful coastline views,” Sen. Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree said in a prepared statement about the grant. “As the neighborhood continues to grow, modern infrastructure improvements will be critical to improving community connectivity. This funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help revitalize East Deering, making it more accessible and safe for those who call it home.”

Portland’s Planning Board approved construction of the Roux Institute campus earlier this month. The planning meeting drew more than 30 public comments, with many people expressing concerns about increased traffic and the need for more parking.


Richard Weare, an East Deering resident, had originally expressed frustration to the board that developers hadn’t properly weighed how neighbors feel about the project. Weare is happy that the Roux Institute will breathe new life into the old B&M factory site. But he is concerned that construction and the eventual opening of the institute would create an unmanageable amount of traffic, particularly around exit 8 on I-295.

He said that the targets of DOT’s project address many of his concerns – though he will hold his applause until DOT’s work is actually finished.

“I don’t see any other options to help with traffic flow other than what’s proposed,” Weare said. “I feel better, but also, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Allison Brown, a member of the East Deering Neighborhood for Responsible Development, said these ideas sound great, but she’s still skeptical about how much traffic can be culled by another exit ramp and bike paths.

She’s also worried that even with different ways to divert traffic, there will still be an influx of drivers in a neighborhood, many of whom might look for street parking instead of using the pay-to-park garage. She urged the Roux Institute and the Planning Board to consider satellite parking.

“I felt that it was irresponsible for the Planning Board to give Roux a permit unless they were required to have have satellite parking,” she said, adding that other local institutions in the area were required to build such parking. “I don’t understand it. There’s no other way to get around the impact of the traffic.”


“That’s my concern, to spend $25 million building when it probably wouldn’t cost that much to have satellite parking,”

The total cost of the project is expected to be more than $35 million. According to the application, the remainder of the money will come from a mixture of federal and other funding, but it was not immediately clear what these sources were.

A city employee was not immediately available to discuss the funding or the details of the plan.

The projects are funded through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity Act.

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