Dec. 21, 2005: Maine Turnpike Authority Director Paul Violette announces that his agency is planning to replace the turnpike’s toll plaza at York, which was meant to be temporary but has been functioning for 35 years.

Violette said the toll plaza, which is 7 miles northeast of the New Hampshire state line on Interstate 95, is in an unsuitable location and has lasted more than twice as long as was originally intended.

The new toll gates would be built farther into Maine, within 4 miles of the old ones. The design has not been determined, and the agency also hasn’t made up its mind about highway-speed, or open-road, tolling.

Fifteen years later, in 2020, a new $38.5 million toll plaza – delayed by controversy about the chosen site and other problems – finally is under construction at mile 8.8 on the highway. It will include three highway-speed E-ZPass tolling lanes in each direction, as well as nine cash lanes – four northbound and five southbound – according to the agency’s website.

Reed & Reed Inc. is the contractor for the project, which is scheduled to be finished in June 2021.

When the new toll collection point is up and running, the existing 17-lane toll gate, which now is about a half-century old, will be demolished.

Highway-speed tolling begins at the mile 44/Interstate 295 exit in Scarborough in June 2019. Construction of a $30 million open-road tolling station begins around the same time in West Gardiner, where the turnpike meets the northern end of I-295. That plaza also is expected to go into service in 2021. Another open-road toll plaza in West Gardiner is completed, as are one on the Falmouth spur and one in New Gloucester.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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