Improvements take shape for Exit 15 on I-295 in Yarmouth

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YARMOUTH — The Maine Department of Transportation rolled out preliminary plans to reconfigure Exit 15 of Interstate 295 and create a 300-car commuter lot on the west side of the highway.

Ernie Martin, Maine DOT project director, told about a dozen residents at the meeting Thursday, Nov. 18, that the $7.5 million plan is still in conceptual form. After public input is received it is expected to be updated and presented once more before final approval.

The project has been discussed since 2004, was presented to the Town Council in 2005, and was part of the I-295 corridor study process in 2006.

Bill Moore of the engineering firm Fay, Spofford & Thorndike said the key problem at Exit 15 is there is no ramp to access northbound I-295 from Route 1. The plan includes the new ramp.

There will also be improvements to Route 1, including additional turning lanes and bicycle lanes. None of the proposed intersections will have signals in order to keep the flow of traffic moving, Moore said.

Access from Route 1 to southbound I-295 will also be addressed. Because the existing on-ramp is straight, Moore said, motorists tend to accelerate quickly into highway traffic. The conceptual plan adds a curve to the ramp, makes it longer and puts it on the same grade as I-295 to create better visibility. Southbound motorists on Route 1 will also be able to use the new northbound highway on-ramp.

Moore said northbound Exit 15 will be realigned and a deceleration lane will be added to allow traffic to transition to the Route 1 entrance without causing backups on I-295.

Martin said the commuter lot will be located where Route 1 south now merges with I-295 south, and will provide parking for cars, buses and large trucks. Between 240 and 300 parking spaces are proposed, with an eye toward the start of Amtrak rail service nearby.

According to Martin, the $6 million roadway project is funded 80 percent federally and 20 percent by the state. It covers preliminary engineering, construction and construction engineering. The park-and-ride lot is estimated to cost $1.5 million and, with the same 80/20 funding split.

Residents who attended the meeting at the Town Hall Community Room included members of the Planning Board, Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, Gateways Committee and Town Council.

Most stressed the importance of the northbound on-ramp, and were generally pleased with the direction of the plan.

Town Councilor Erv Bickford said the plan is a “tremendous improvement” from previous plans.

Martin said there will be another public meeting in June 2011 and the design plan could be finished as soon as December 2011.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

The Maine Department of Transportation presented preliminary plans for improvements to Interstate 295 Exit 15 in Yarmouth at a meeting last week. The proposal includes a northbound on-ramp from Route 1 and a new park-and-ride lot for up to 300 vehicles.

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The Maine Department of Transportation presented preliminary plans for improvements to Interstate 295 Exit 15 in Yarmouth at a meeting last week. The proposal includes a northbound on-ramp from Route 1 and a new park-and-ride lot for up to 300 vehicles.

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