An artists drawing shows the proposed $512 million expansion of Maine Medical Center in Portland. Credit: Courtesy of Maine Medical Center

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Medical Center has received state approval for a $512 million renovation and expansion that would add more single-patient rooms, operating rooms and a new entrance along Congress Street.

Earlier this week, the state Department of Health and Human Services determined that the project met state requirements that it not increase medical costs or duplicate existing services.

“There has never been a doubt about the clinical need for this project,” Maine Medical Center President and CEO Richard Petersen said in a statement. “It has been clear to all that we need to expand and modernize to provide the best possible care for our patients.”

With the go-ahead from the state, the hospital will next need to win final approval from local officials.

If the local planning process proceeds on schedule, Maine Med hopes to break ground on the project in March of 2018. Construction is expected to take four years and will include the building of a large new parking garage on St. John Street.

First proposed a year ago, the half-billion-dollar expansion would create 20 new operating rooms and 128 new patient rooms, but not increase the overall number of hospital beds.

Rather, many existing rooms will be converted from double- to single-occupancy, which hospital officials say will increase efficiency and improve care.

“This project is vital to our ability to continue to offer great, world-class care to the community,” said Joel Botler, senior vice president and chief medical officer.