New 6 Mile Highway Could Ease Traffic to the Suburbs West of Portland
Over the past 30 years, Portland's suburbs have burst with people and that leads to some serious traffic.
The Bangor Daily News reported that Portland could have quicker commutes within five years IF the Maine Turnpike Authority goes ahead with a $220 million plan to build a new six-mile highway from the Maine Mall in South Portland to Gorham.
'It’s a real bottleneck, and it’s really a situation that does need to be addressed.'
This is huge. Maine rarely builds new roads, and that's because they are wicked expensive! But that's where the Maine Turnpike can help with tolls offsetting the cost.
This comes with a lot to unpack. First, it would come right after the widening of the Turnpike in the Portland area. Plus, the impact on the environment would need to be addressed. Could the congestion be eased with more public transportation?
This is still in the planning stages, so a final route isn't in stone. But the new highway stretch would probably connect with the Maine Turnpike at Exit 45 near the Maine Mall in South Portland. Looks like the turnpike authority might start the permit process next year.
This new highway, which the turnpike authority has been researching for a decade, is needed to fight the congestion on roads thanks to the explosion of population in areas like Scarborough and Gorham. The Bangor Daily News reported that from a review from the Maine Department of Transportation, traffic on Brackett Road, which runs south from Main Street in Gorham toward Route 22, has more than doubled since the 1990s.
Senator Bill Diamond, a Democrat from Windham who's on the Legislature's transportation committee, says,
It’s a real bottleneck, and it’s really a situation that does need to be addressed.
Traffic in the towns surrounding Portland isn't a new concern. The Maine Turnpike has been studying what to do since 2007. Scarborough, Gorham, Westbrook, and South Portland love this idea. But, remember when we tried to widen the turnpike? We said, nope back in 1991 - but eventually widening the turnpike won and the project was finished in 2004. More highways mean more cars which means more greenhouse emissions which means a negative impact on the environment.
The public will have a say about the project and 2022 could see more discussion and planning. There are a lot of hurdles to clear to see this to the end, but something has to be done.