By Mark H. Reddig
Maine is considering adding a new rest area – with truck parking – that would serve both the turnpike – which carries Interstate 95 – as well as I-295.
A state official said that one of the chief reasons the state is looking the idea over is the need for more truck parking in the area.
The plan is in the very preliminary stages. However, the state is considering a site already owned by the Maine Turnpike Authority about six miles south of the state capital of Augusta.
The site – about 40 acres – is at mile marker 51 on I-295, and near mile marker 103 on the Turnpike, Bruce Pelletier, a public affairs assistant with the Maine Turnpike Authority, told Land Line. If it is built, the rest area would be accessible from both highways.
“Ideally, that’s where we would want to have it,” Pelletier said.
“It depends on if the financing comes together; and if we can’t secure all the financing for the full project, then there might be an alternative proposal put forth.”
Pelletier is not certain how much truck parking would be included in the rest area. Truck parking in state rest areas is “fairly limited,” Pelletier said, which is “part of the reason why we are looking at building this site, is to accommodate some truck parking.”
Many truckers who work along the East Coast have expressed concerns about the lack of truck parking along the I-95 corridor.
“We are aware that there is a need,” Pelletier said. “If there are people interested in supplying us some information on their view of what the need is, we’d be happy to hear from them.”
Many, if not most, of the design specifics have yet to be worked out – even whether the rest area would be accessible to both north and southbound traffic, he said, although that is likely.
At press time, there is no opposition to building the rest area, but Pelletier said the public in the area has only recently become aware of the project, after a story ran in The Kennebec Journal, the newspaper in Augusta.
“We’ve had contact with some abutting land owners,” he said. “There’s a question as to whether or not it would be built at all. So we haven’t had any vocal opposition to it.”
The rest area plan is just the latest of a series of highway improvements in that area. The state just finished upgrading the southern section of the Turnpike, including widening a 30-mile section and upgrading interchanges and bridges. Upgrading service plazas is the next logical step.
Turnpike officials are trying to work out a financing package that would involve the state’s Department of Transportation and others. If it does move forward, it may not be in operation anytime soon.
“By the time you get to your environmental permits, and you get your design put in, and you get plans done and you secure the financing, it could be two years, it could be seven or eight years; it’s hard to say,” Pelletier said.
If you want to share your view with the Maine Turnpike Authority or tell them about truck parking needs in the area, you can write them at:
430 Riverside St.
Portland, ME 04103
Or you can write the Maine DOT at:
16 Statehouse Station
Augusta, ME 04333 LL