Proposed turnpike spur gains legislative traction

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AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation voted unanimously Tuesday to advance a measure authorizing a spur linking Route 114 in South Gorham with the Maine Turnpike.

The bill aims to reduce congestion in Gorham and the surrounding communities, the House Democratic Office said.

“(Tuesday’s) unanimous vote out of committee indicates that this project not only has local and regional importance, but is also important to the entire state’s economy,” Rep. Andrew McLean, D-Gorham, sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

The measure, LD 905, would allow the Maine Turnpike Authority to borrow up to $150 million to plan, design and build the project. It still faces further votes in  the House and Senate.

The spur is aimed at easing traffic congestion in the Route 22 and Route 114 corridor between Gorham, Scarborough, South Portland and Westbrook. It would link with the turnpike in the area of Exit 45, which accesses Maine Mall Road and Payne Road. The bill 

“This project is an opportunity to grow our downtowns and preserve our village communities,” McLean said. “In Gorham … to reduce the traffic by 25 or even 50 percent could have a very positive impact on our downtown.”

Construction also hinges on an evaluation of alternatives as required by the Sensible Transportation Policy Act.

McLean, who represents parts of Gorham and Scarborough, is the House chairman of the Transportation Committee.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or rlowell@keepmecurrent.com.

A bill in the Legislature would authorize construction of a spur linking the Maine Turnpike with Route 114 in South Gorham, likely in the area shown here at the Bernard P. Rines Bypass roundabout.

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