2018-02-16 / Community

Lots of road projects planned for Cape, SoPo

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND/CAPE ELIZABETH – As staff from Cape Elizabeth and South Portland continue to prepare their respective municipal budgets and think about infrastructure projects that need to be done this year, two state organizations have already laid out a list of projects they intend to accomplish over the next few years in the two communities.

This month, Comprehensive Land Technologies is set to wrap up a project on behalf of the Maine Turnpike Authority in which vegetation was cleared from the side of the road between mile 42 in Scarborough and mile 45 in South Portland. Once completed, the clearing work will continue at the southbound section of the turnpike around mile 85 by Sabbatus, before moving to the turnpike from mile 93 in Litchfield to close to mile 101 in West Gardiner and the Exit 103 interchange in Gardiner.

“We are trying to get ride of some trees and growth areas,” said Erin Courtney, public relations coordinator for the Maine Turnpike Authority. “It’s for a number of reasons.”

Courtney said with the trees cleared, it provides less of a safety issue should a car have an accident and slide off the turnpike. It also helps motorists spot wildlife and helps make winter storm operations more efficient.

“It helps more sunlight hit the road, which is important during snowy or icy conditions because it melts the snow quicker, which helps us use less material on the road,” Courtney said.

Courtney said the work is part of the Maine Turnpike Authority’s on-going roadside clearing. It is the first time such work has been done in the Scarborough/South Portland, Sabbatus, Litchfield/Gardiner areas. In 2016 a section of the turnpike roadside in Auburn/Lewiston and West Gardiner to Augusta was cleared by Drew Corp. Last year, Comprehensive Land Technologies cleared sections of the turnpike in Portland and along the Falmouth Spur.

“They always structure the work to be done in the wintertime so it doesn’t happen during peak season. Typically they are able to be completed before June,” Courtney said.

Although delays are not expected, Maine Turnpike Authority officials urge motorists to be careful and stay alert while driving through the areas where the $376,700 project is taking place.

Aside from clearing, the Maine Turnpike Authority has a number of projects in the Scarborough/South Portland area listed in its four-year capital improvement plan for 2018, including widening the Exit 44 southbound on ramp, replacing Cummings Road with a new bridge (through 2020), continued work on the Exit 44 toll, bridge repair on Running Hill Road. In 2019, the Exit 45 interchange could see a renovation (through 2021) and in 2020, there may be some pavement work between Saco and Scarborough. Between 2019 and 2024, the median between Exit 46 in South Portland and Exit 49 in Portland may be renovated to improve drainage and to replace the grass median and guard rail with a concrete barrier. In the final year of the plan – 2021 –interchange signs would be replaced between Exit 45 in South Portland and Exit 48 in Portland.

The Maine Turnpike Authority is not the only group to plan improvement work in the area over the next few years. The Maine Department of Transportation has a number of highway, bridge and other transportation work outlined in its more than $2.3 billion 2018-2019-2020 Work Plan.

For this year, in South Portland, the Maine DOT is planning a bridge protective coating, mechanical work, sidewalk improvements and upgrades to the control room on the Casco Bay Bridge, bridge improvements at Exit 4 on Interstate 295 southbound and brush removal on Interstate 295 from Exit 44 in Scarborough to the Portland-Falmouth line. In 2019/2020, the DOT plans to improve lighting on the Casco Bay Bridge, rehabilitation of Lincoln Street, Billy Vachon Drive, safety improvements on Route 77 and Broadway near Evans Street, bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Route 1, bridge painting on Interstate 295/Westbrook Street Bridge over Route 9 and bridge culvert rehabilitation on Interstate 295/ Red Brook Bridge toward Portland.

According to DOT officials, sidewalk work was last done on the Casco Bay Bridge three years ago and the concrete sealing four years ago. Lighting and mechanical work is typically done every year.

This year, in Cape Elizabeth, the DOT plans some highway paving on one-third of a mile on Route 77 (Ocean House Road) beginning at Spurwink Avenue. For 2019- 2020, paving is planned on Scott Dyer Road beginning at Brentwood Road and extending a half-mile to Ocean House Road.

Also in 2019-2020, the department plans to begin work to extend the Eastern Trail between Wainwright Field in South Portland and the Nonesuch River in Scarborough.

“These projects are all important from a safety standpoint, but they are also critical to our economic vitality,” said Republican Sen. Amy Volk in a press release about the local projects in the work plan. “We need to have fully functional roads and bridges in order to remain competitive with other states, and I believe these projects will help achieve that. The funding to close the gap on the Eastern Trail is especially exciting for many of my constituents.”

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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