State officials are warning drivers who use Interstate 295 that a section of the road in Richmond is scheduled to close this weekend.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said crews will replace a culvert that has failed under both northbound lanes, forcing the road’s closure. The interstate is set to be shut down at noon Sunday and to be reopened by Wednesday’s morning commute.

Drivers heading north will be directed onto exit 43 to take a detour along routes 197 and 138 and U.S. Route 201 before rejoining Interstate 295 in Gardiner at exit 49. Joyce Taylor, the DOT’s chief engineer, said the detour should add about 15 minutes to the northbound commute. She urged northbound drivers to use Interstate 95, which also is known as the Maine Turnpike.

Taylor said the decision to close the road was made “out of an abundance of caution.” The culvert, which is 7 feet in diameter and 122 feet long, was installed in 1975. Only the damaged section of the culvert will be replaced during the closure. The remaining section, which goes under the southbound lanes, will be replaced later.

“We have learned from experience that we can repair this culvert more quickly and more safely if there is no traffic in the area,” she said.

Talbot said the speed limit on the interstate, which is normally 70 mph, will drop 15 to 25 mph as traffic is channeled down to one lane as drivers approach exit 43. Speed limits along the detour will be reduced by 10 mph and fines for violators will be doubled.

Officials are adding temporary stop signs and traffic signals along the route to ease the pressure of increased traffic, Talbot said.

“It is anticipated that there will be an increased police presence to ensure motorists obey the temporary speed limits along the rural, residential detour,” Talbot said.

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