Painting is all that's left before I-295 ramps, lanes return to normal on Tukeys Bridge in Portland

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PORTLAND — Weather permitting, all lanes and previously closed on- and off-ramps on Tukeys Bridge on Interstate 295 are scheduled to reopen in the next few days, weeks ahead of schedule.

Once roadway barriers are removed, according to the Maine Department of Transportation, Washington Avenue will again be part of the I-295 traffic flow on Tukeys Bridge.

Highway crews will also reopen the Baxter Boulevard on-ramp to I-295 northbound, and the temporary traffic light on Franklin Street’s northbound on-ramp will no longer be in use.

There is the possibility the predicted heavy rain associated with Hurricane Irene could delay the activity. Lane stripes must be painted before the lanes are opened, DOT said, and this step is weather-dependent.

The Tukeys Bridge project is the largest individual project in the $24 million I-295 rehabilitation project.

Drivers will regain not only the four travel lanes across the bridge, both northbound and southbound, but also full access to I-295 northbound from Washington Avenue and to Washington Avenue from I-295 northbound via the Exit 8 off-ramp.

Earlier this summer, crews cordoned off Washington Avenue, essentially creating a local road with no access to or from I-295. This strategy allowed work zone lane closures on the northbound side of the bridge, as well as repair work just to the north on the Washington Avenue, Sherwood Street, SLRR, and Kensington Street overpasses.

The infrastructure improvements on the bridge and the overpasses included removal of existing pavement, repairs on the concrete deck, installation of new membranes, repaving, and repaired expansion joints on both side of the bridge. In addition, crews installed new guardrails and paved miles of I-295, including three bridges, between Falmouth and Freeport.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” David Sherlock, DOT bridge program manager, said in a press release. “We still need to complete paving operations from Tukeys Bridge to Exit 9 on I-295 northbound, now through mid-October, but this will work occur at night between 7 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.”

Paving operations on I-295 southbound from Exit 11 to the Maine Turnpike tollbooth in Scarborough will continue until mid-September. This work is also scheduled from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.