ISLAND FALLS, Maine — Starting in mid-June, a section of Interstate 95 northbound will be closed as the Department of Transportation begins a major reconstruction project to the road.
According to Ted Talbot, public relations director for Maine Department of Transportation, the 10-mile stretch begins at Exit 276 in Island Falls and ends at Exit 286 in Oakfield. Traffic will be detoured onto U.S. Route 2 for the duration of the project.
The $13 million road reconstruction project was put out to bid on May 15 and according to Talbot, Maine Department of Transportation plans to award the bid to Lane Construction Corporation.
“We are still looking at a mid-June startup, but that may change to the latter part of June (following the pre-construction meeting),” Talbot said.
At the crux of the issue is severe frost heaves between Island Falls and Oakfield in the northbound lane only. Instead of closing just one lane of traffic, which is common during road resurfacing projects, Maine Department of Transportation felt shutting down both lanes and rerouting traffic was the best method for this project.
“We need to do it right and in order to do that we can’t just close one lane at a time,” Talbot said. “This will be a full reconstruction and the paving deadline has to be met.”
While he did not have an estimate as to how many vehicles pass through this area on average, he did say that the number of vehicles impacted is significant because of the volume of motorists traveling to and from Aroostook County.
The detour, while an inconvenience, could be a much-needed economic boon for the communities of Island Falls and Oakfield. The detour follows Route 2, past Upper Mattawamkeag Lake before veering to the right onto the Oakfield/Dyer Brook Road and then onto River Road.
Upon re-entering I-95 at Exit 286 in Oakfield, there will be an additional 1.5-mile section that features temporary lane closures, Talbot said. Motorists also have the option of following Route 2 through Smyrna Mills if they so choose.
Talbot added that in the next construction season in 2014, Route 2 is on the list of roads targeted for reconstruction.
The I-95 project is scheduled for completion sometime in November.