Busy Stretch of Maine Highway Closes for Bridge Replacement

Part of I-295 will close between Portland and Falmouth as the 60-year-old Veranda Street Bridge, used by 55,000 to 75,000 travelers a day, is demolished and replaced, a disruptive process expected to take four days

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Detours, noise and a decent amount of traffic are on the way for people planning a trip through a certain section of Maine highway this weekend.

Beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday evening, all lanes of Interstate 295 will close as the approximately 60-year-old Veranda Street Bridge, which roughly 55,000 to 75,000 travelers use daily, is demolished and replaced.

That means that there will be no direct way to travel on a highway between Portland and Falmouth without using the Maine Turnpike.

"These four days are very disruptive," said Paul Merrill, director of communications for the Maine Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the project.

To replace the overpass, new bridge sections, which have already been assembled, will be moved into place on giant rollers with the goal of reopening the highway lanes on Monday morning.

"This is a rip-off-the-Band-Aid approach," said Merrill, explaining that the project could have been accomplished by building new bridges piece by piece in the same locations as the existing ones, but that would have taken three to four years rather than the current, much shorter timeline.

For drivers who had planned to take I-295 from Portland or points south of the city to points north of there, or people already north of Falmouth who are trying to go in the opposite direction, Maine DOT is advising them to travel on the Maine Turnpike and avoid the Veranda Street area completely over the coming weekend.

If you do have to go to an area of Portland or Falmouth that is, under normal circumstances, easiest to reach by driving on I-295, there is a list of alternate routes and road closures on

"Plan your route. Ideally, stay home, stay away," said Merrill. "We want to keep as many vehicles off the road as possible so that we minimize the traffic for the folks who have no choice but to travel through Portland and Falmouth this weekend."

Merrill also noted that anyone driving in the project's immediate vicinity "should plan for traffic and delays."

People who live in neighborhoods near the overpass say they are expecting disruptions that they will have to adjust to over the next several days as the $21 million effort ramps up.

However, some of those residents are looking forward to seeing this part of the construction take place.

"As a photographer, it's visually very, very exciting," said Donald Verger, who lives in the Foreside section of Falmouth.

He planned to spend the weekend photographing some of the road work and experimenting with an app that identifies birds by their song because there will be less ambient noise from traffic.

As of Friday morning, Maine DOT hoped to have the bridge sections reopened to vehicles by 11 a.m. on Monday, with other work around the site to be completed over the coming days and weeks.

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