Maine Turnpike Authority plans Falmouth projects

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FALMOUTH — The Maine Turnpike Authority will spend nearly $15 million on repairs and upgrades in the area beginning this year.

The projects are all slated to begin either in the spring or summer, and have various timetables for completion. The MTA scheduled a public hearing on the projects for Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m., in Town Hall Council Chambers, with a planner and an engineer expected to be present.

There are four projects planned: turnpike pavement rehabilitation from Portland to Falmouth, Route 9 bridge repairs, upgrades to the toll plaza at Exit 53, and converting Exit 52 into an open-road, high-speed toll.

Erin Courtney, public relations coordinator for the MTA, said a contractor for the pavement project is expected to be named this week. She said the other contracts, which are still in development, will be awarded as the projects become ready.

Courtney said the pavement project will consist of upgrades from Mile 51.2 to Mile 54.5 on the mainline, as well as “milling and filling” on the Falmouth Spur. She said the work will cost an estimated $4.8 million, and will be completed by the end of summer.

The Route 9 bridge repair will be included in the same contract, Courtney said, and will cost $380,000. Work will consist of a new wearing surface and concrete deck repairs, and will last from June 15 to Aug. 15.

“It’s going to be alternating one-way traffic over the bridge. So we’re not closing the bridge completely,” she said.

The two toll projects are part of a seven-year, $125 million initiative to upgrade all the toll systems on the turnpike.

Courtney said converting Exit 52 into open-road tolling will cost $8 million and last from 2015 until 2017. Cars will eventually be able to drive 60 mph through the lanes without stopping.

“By converting to open-road tolling, it reduces noise and air pollution, because people don’t have to slow down, the big trucks don’t have to use the brakes,” Courtney said.

Finally, she said, upgrading the toll at Exit 53 will cost $2 million, and will begin this summer and conclude at the end of 2016.

“We’re upgrading the existing toll lanes by putting in different toll collection software, we’re also creating an additional entering lane,” she said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.