The new Veranda Street bridge is open to traffic ahead of schedule Monday morning after an ambitious weekend project that closed one of Maine’s busiest roads to traffic.

Crews worked overnight to pave and stripe the bridge, the final step to complete the $20.8 million project. The Maine Department of Transportation had estimated I-295 would reopen around 11 a.m. Monday.

The busy section of I-295 between Portland and Falmouth has been closed in both directions since 7 p.m. Friday. A section of Veranda Street beneath the bridge has also been closed since last Monday and is expected to open Monday around 2 p.m. This time of year, about 55,000 vehicles travel that section of interstate each day.

Demolition of the deteriorating bridge began Friday evening and continued Saturday after six years of planning. Two sections of prefabricated bridge decks – each 80 feet long, 47 feet wide and weighing 400 tons – were held alongside the bridge on risers and then moved into place using self-propelled transporters.

Construction workers put in 12-hour shifts to get the project done on time, and there were about 90 workers on site each shift, said Paul Merrill, spokesman for MaineDOT. The primary contractor, Pittsfield-based Cianbro, worked with Shaw Brothers Construction of Gorham on the project.

“We have a whole bunch of teams coming together and all pulling in the same direction, so we’re in really good shape,” he said on Sunday.


As expected, the construction project caused some inconveniences as traffic was detoured around the project. But it also generated excitement among nearby residents and others who stopped by periodically throughout the weened to watch crews demolish and replace the bridge. A livestream allowed people to watch the work from home.

Throughout the weekend, the smell of sausages and fried onions wafted through the air from Fat Guys, a food truck that arrived on the construction site Friday night to feed hungry workers.

Dan Krell of Westbrook came to Portland each day to watch the construction and also viewed the livestream.

“It’s amazing,” he said Sunday, “I always get impressed that things like this can be put together so that everything fits and is on time. Everybody is wandering around there knowing what to do.”

State transportation officials spent years preparing motorists for the closure of I-295.During bridge construction over the weekend, all through-traffic had to detour onto the Maine Turnpike and get back onto I-295 using the Falmouth Spur.

Traffic heading north on I-295 and Route 1 had to detour onto the Exit 9 off-ramp heading toward Falmouth. Vehicles could connect back to the highway and communities north via Route 1. Southbound vehicle traffic had to detour to Bucknam Road in Falmouth, then head south on Middle Road to Ocean and Washington avenues for a connection to I-295 south.


Merrill, from MaineDOT, said the old roadway under the Veranda Street bridge was confusing and contributed to a high number of crashes at the intersection of Veranda Street and the I-295 southbound ramp. The project reconfigures the roadway and modern signals at the end of the Exit 9 ramps are expected to improve safety.

When the project is complete, the reconfigured Veranda Street will consist of two 11-foot-side vehicle travel lanes, two 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes, a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the north side of the road and a multi-use path on the south side that extends to the Martin’s Point bridge.

The project will convert nearly 1.5 acres of roadway and median into green space.

Work on the project will continue for months and will include some overnight lane closures. MaineDOT also is planning another paving project in the area in October.

Parts of the interstate roadway on either side of the new bridge will likely settle as much as an inch during the next several months, which is “normal and expected,” Merrill said. The project is expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Merrill said the department is “extremely grateful to everyone who helped make this weekend a success.”

“Most importantly, MaineDOT wants to thank our customers – the members of the traveling public who heeded the warnings to avoid the area, use the detour routes and planned for delays during the interstate closure,” Merrill said after the interstate reopened. “We sincerely appreciate your continued patience and understanding as we do this important work.”

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