SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Turnpike Authority announced in a news release Wednesday morning that Exit 45 in South Portland will be shut down this weekend to allow for the construction of the new Diamond Interchange configuration.
The new interchange configuration will revamp the 67-year-old exit, which the MTA calls a "major milestone in the modernization of the highway" in the release.
According to the release, on- and off-ramps at Exit 45 will be closed to oncoming traffic from 9 a.m. Friday through Monday, and drivers should plan accordingly to use other nearby interchanges as an alternate route.
The release states that the Exit 45 interchange is no longer able to handle the increased traffic volumes of this century and can't always accommodate the height of today's commercial trucks.
"The changeover will direct entering traffic to new toll plazas, now located on the two on-ramps," the release stated. "After the switch, and for several weeks, all traffic will travel non-stop through the former toll plaza on the Maine Turnpike Approach Road. Later in October, MTA plans to close Exit 45 again when crews will demolish and remove the old barrier toll booths. When the exit reopens next week drivers will begin navigating the new interchange and should be mindful of new traffic patterns."
Below is a model of Exit 45 redesigned looking southbound from the MTA website:
The following is a list of operations of the new on- and off-ramps to be constructed at Exit 45, according to the release:
- Northbound on-ramp: "Traveling on the Maine Turnpike Approach Road, northbound vehicles will bear right onto a new on-ramp, pay at the toll plaza, and continue north to the Turnpike."
- Northbound off-ramp: "Very little has changed for northbound drivers exiting the Turnpike who will simply turn onto the off-ramp and continue on to the Approach Road."
- Southbound on-ramp: "From the Approach Road, southbound vehicles will cross over the Turnpike and arrive at a new traffic signal where they will turn left onto the ramp, pay at the toll plaza, and continue south to the Turnpike."
- Southbound off-ramp: "Southbound exit traffic will take the Exit 45 off-ramp and then turn left onto the Approach Road at the new traffic signal."
"When the project is completed, drivers will enjoy a safer high-speed roadway, less traffic congestion, and a smoother, more efficient shortcut around Portland," the release wrote. "Moreover, while it enhances safety and mobility, this upgrade of the Turnpike’s capacity should prove beneficial to Maine’s busiest economic region."
After Exit 45 reopens to oncoming traffic on Monday, construction in the area is still expected to be ongoing for the next several months.
To see the full plan for the new Diamond Interchange at Exit 45, click here.