BANGOR, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation hopes to avoid causing major headaches for commuters and tourists this summer as crews overhaul the entire length of Interstate 395.
During the day, motorists using the busy thoroughfare connecting Interstate 95 with parts of Bangor and Brewer shouldn’t be inconvenienced, according to Shawn Smith, senior project manager for the Department of Transportation. All work will happen overnight.
“We try to minimize as much traffic impact as we can,” he said last week, speaking inside a Department of Transportation sedan while driving along I-395 on a rainy afternoon.
Smith pointed out wheel ruts that have formed in the road after years of heavy traffic. When rainwater falls onto the pavement, it flows into these ruts and can make for hazardous driving conditions, Smith said. If the road isn’t repaired, those ruts will only get worse.
The $5.25 million project will involve much more than resurfacing the 5-mile-long, four-lane highway. Crews will rip up the existing road, level it, repave, replace damaged guardrails, replace the corrugated steel portions of culverts that run under the road, trim trees, repair crumbling curbing, mill and repave all offramps and onramps and install new lighting, among other improvements.
“It’s far from just a pure paving job. We’re doing a little of everything just to clean up the corridor,” Smith said. “We’ll be out of the road by 6 a.m. every day.”
Work is expected to start in mid- to late-May and is scheduled to run through much of the summer. As with all roadwork projects, the Department of Transportation urges people traveling through construction zones to slow down and avoid any distractions, including using phones, even when there isn’t work being done.
Smith said the department doesn’t plan to close the road and that all lanes in both directions should remain open during the day. Traffic will run on the milled surface for a portion of the project, and lanes are likely to shift or close overnight so crews can work.
Drivers should expect some onramps and offramps to be closed while crews work on them. The Department of Transportation will notify the public of those closures in advance.
The highway serves as a popular connector between Bangor and Brewer and a quick, easy means of getting to Route 1A, especially in summer months, when tourists and locals head to Acadia National Park and the Bar Harbor area.
I-395, which runs from Odlin Road in Bangor to Route 1A in Brewer, sees an average of more than 18,000 vehicles per day, with traffic tailing off to about 8,000 cars per day as you get closer to Route 1A.
An unrelated bridge repair project is already underway where I-395 passes over Webster Avenue in Bangor. That project could cause a bridge closure and detour sometime in May. The Department of Transportation plans to announce more information about the work during a news conference later this month.
The projects are separate from the I-395-Route 9 connector, which is still in the planning stages.
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