FALMOUTH — The on-ramp from the Falmouth spur to the northbound Maine Turnpike is closed for approximately a year during replacement of the Presumpscot River Bridge.
Other ramps, including the southbound turnpike on-ramp and northbound off-ramp at Exit 52 are open during construction.
The $6.5 million bridge replacement project is designed to improve motorist safety by widening the bridge and adding shoulders.
The spur connects the turnpike with Interstate 295 and Route 1, near Bucknam Road. Approximately 1,500 vehicles use the northbound turnpike ramp each day, compared to 3,600 who use the southbound on-ramp.
“If we left it open, we would have construction workers, two lanes of turnpike traffic and on-ramp traffic trying to merge, all in the same place,” said Dan Paradee of the Maine Turnpike Authority. “It would be an unsafe situation.”
Paradee said no detour has been marked because motorists who typically use the ramp come from a wide variety of places.
He suggested those coming from downtown Portland go south and use the Maine Mall Road interchange from Interstate 295 to get on the turnpike.
“We took two cars and tested how long it took to go south on I-295 , then north on the turnpike, instead of taking the Falmouth spur,” Paradee said. “It was almost exactly the same amount of time.”
MTA is recommending drivers coming from Falmouth take local roads to Exit 53 in West Falmouth.
Paradee said MTA made sure it finished work on the Route 100 bridge at Exit 53 before closing the Falmouth spur at Exit 52.
He also suggested motorists could use exits 46, 47, or 48. There may, however, be some closure overlap when construction at Exit 48 begins in February.
“People may have to go to Exit 47 then, which is one more mile away,” Paradee said.
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org