PORTLAND — The Veranda Street bridge will close for three months next week so crews can replace the 1920s-era span.
Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Wentworth said the street will be closed to vehicular traffic for about three months starting on Wednesday, June 24. Although the new bridge is scheduled to reopen on Sept. 25, Wentworth said it may reopen sooner.
“There are incentives to get it done sooner,” Wentworth said. “The contractor is hopeful that he can get it done earlier. Obviously, weather sometimes plays a factor.”
On Monday morning, crews were putting the finishing touches on a pedestrian bridge that will allow walkers and bicycle riders to cross the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad tracks between Washington Avenue and Martin’s Point.
Wentworth said the DOT will adjust traffic patterns at the bottom of the northbound Interstate 295 Exit 9 off-ramp to Route 1 towards Falmouth on June 23. The improvements will preserve access to neighborhoods and businesses between Olympia and Kensington streets, just south of the I-295 overpass and north of the railroad tracks.
The work includes adding a strip pavement to allow vehicles getting off I-295 to turn left – a turn that currently can only be made by making an illegal U-turn near Oregon Street. Traffic patterns will be altered with new road stripping, cones and concrete barriers.
Wentworth said fliers have been distributed to inform residents and businesses about the upcoming changes. An electronic message board will be used to alert drivers to the detour.
The existing bridge will be replaced by a 30-foot single-span concrete bridge with sidewalks and bike lanes. The current structure has deteriorated over the years to the point where the DOT last year posted a 15-ton weight limit and added temporary supports. Large trucks and city vehicles like plow trucks, garbage trucks and buses have had to use alternate routes.
Throughout the construction, motorists will be able to use Baxter Boulevard and I-295 to move between Washington Avenue and Martin’s Point.
The temporary pedestrian bridge will be taken down when the $2 million project is completed.
“Things are going good so far,” Wentworth said. “Everything is on schedule and on budget.”
A Maine Department of Transportation map of how traffic patterns will change next week because of reconstruction of the Veranda Street bridge in Portland. Some drivers who normally use Washington Avenue to access Veranda Street from the south will have to use Baxter Boulevard and Exit 9 of northbound Interstate 295 to approach Veranda Street from the north. (Courtesy MDOT)