Highway engineers envision an extra travel lane on the Interstate 95 bridge during peak hours and motorists zooming through a new York Toll Plaza without stopping, making it easier to visit Maine.
But first, there will be a couple of years of construction.
The Maine Department of Transportation, Maine Turnpike Authority and New Hampshire Department of Transportation are teaming up on more than $90 million in improvements on an eight-mile corridor from the bridge through the new toll plaza over the next few years.
Maine Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note on Wednesday outlined steps that are being taken to ensure that there’s minimal impact on travelers.
“We want to reassure travelers and commuters that we have them in mind and are going to be doing everything in our power to keep motorists safe and traffic moving,” he said.
An effort to keep motorists updated, dubbed “Maine Ahead: Building a Better Gateway,” will include a website with a traffic alert sign-up system, and social media channels to follow, officials told reporters at a news conference.
Work began last fall on a new toll plaza in York that will allow vehicles to travel through E-ZPass lanes at highway speeds. The $39 million project will be completed in 2021.
Work on the Piscataqua River Bridge, which begins next month, is expected to include upgrades that’ll facilitate extra travel lane during busy travel times. The $52.6 million project will be completed in 2022 with the cost being shared by Maine and New Hampshire.
During construction, three lanes will be open in each direction on the bridge during peak hours. The Maine Turnpike Authority intends to keep three lanes of traffic open in each direction throughout most of the construction on the toll plaza.
Once completed, 1,800 cars will be able to pass through the plaza each hour, an increase of 57 percent, Maine Turnpike officials said.