YORK, Maine — The Maine Turnpike Authority has activated its new toll plaza at Mile 8.8, which is the southernmost toll for the state of Maine.
The toll was activated at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
In synch with turning on the new system, the former York toll plaza, a mile and a half south of the new location, was deactivated.
Construction crews will begin dismantling the historic 52-year-old southern gateway to Maine. The MTA is warning drivers of some traffic changes through the area while the old gateway is deconstructed.
The older York toll plaza, at Mile 7.3, will be removed in three steps.
During this process, drivers will have to navigate their way through the now dormant tollbooth lanes and obey a 10-mile-per-hour speed limit to ensure that vehicles can travel through the passageways smoothly.
The speed limit between the old and new toll plazas is also reduced to 55 mph, and wide-loads will be prohibited from September 15 through October 1.
The three steps of demolition per the Maine Turnpike Authority's website:
Southbound traffic will be diverted through the five, center tollbooth lanes. Northbound traffic stays to the right driving through the four former tollbooth lanes. DO NOT STOP. All vehicles will then continue on to the new toll plaza 1.5 miles ahead.
Northbound traffic and vehicles entering the highway via the Spur Road on-ramp will be diverted through the center tollbooth lanes. Southbound traffic stays to the right driving through the five former tollbooth lanes. DO NOT STOP.
Canopy removal moves to the center lanes. Southbound traffic stays to the right through five outside tollbooth lanes. Northbound traffic stays to the right through four outside tollbooth lanes. DO NOT STOP.
Drivers approaching the old plaza should keep within the orange construction barrels marking the travel lanes and be particularly aware of other vehicles, especially when approaching narrow toll booth lanes.
Each step will allow workers to safely isolate construction areas and remove the canopy roof above the old tollbooth lanes section by section without interrupting the flow of traffic in either direction.
In Step Three, with traffic now confined to the outside lanes, contractors will remove the center canopy and establish a secure work area in which all of the former toll plaza structures will be cleared away and six new highway lanes will be constructed.
Once those six highway lanes are completed, this configuration will be in place throughout the winter months, and drivers will proceed north and south through this new section at a reduced speed of 55 miles per hour, as workers remove the remaining outside tollbooths.
The demolition project has been estimated to cost $12.2 million.
This new tolling system is the fifth installed in the state with a sixth scheduled to open in West Gardiner later this fall.