2018-02-09 / Front Page

Authority launches tree, brush removal project

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


The Maine Turnpike Authority has hired Comprehensive Land Technologies to remove trees and other brush from the side of sections of the highway from Scarborough to Gardiner. Clearing the sides of the road give motorists better sightlines of possible wildlife and increases the sunlight on the road, which helps melt snow and ice quicker. (Michael Kelley photo) The Maine Turnpike Authority has hired Comprehensive Land Technologies to remove trees and other brush from the side of sections of the highway from Scarborough to Gardiner. Clearing the sides of the road give motorists better sightlines of possible wildlife and increases the sunlight on the road, which helps melt snow and ice quicker. (Michael Kelley photo) Motorists traveling north and south on the Maine Turnpike between Scarborough and Gardiner will notice some activity on the side of the roadway now through June as a contractor works to clear vegetation from the side of the road.

The work, which began Jan. 22, will take place between mile 42 in Scarborough and mile 45 in South Portland, the southbound section of the turnpike around mile 85 near Sabbatus, as well as a section from the turnpike from mile 93 in Litchfield to close to mile 101 in West Gardiner and the Exit 103 interchange in Gardiner.


Removal of brush and trees along the Maine Turnpike is one of the transportation projects planned in the South Portland/Scarborough area in 2018. (Michael Kelley photo) Removal of brush and trees along the Maine Turnpike is one of the transportation projects planned in the South Portland/Scarborough area in 2018. (Michael Kelley photo) “We are trying to get rid of some trees and growth areas,” said Erin Courtney, public relations coordinator for the Maine Turnpike Authority. “It’s for a number of reasons.”

The contractor, Comprehensive Land Technologies will continue clearing trees and other debris in the Scarborough/South Portland area between now and Friday, Feb. 23 when work will move to the Sabattus/Litchfield area.

“Weather always plays a role. We can’t work out there on days they are plowing, but as far as I know, the schedule remains the same,” a representative from Comprehensive Land Technologies said Tuesday, the day before the area was expected to get hit by a snowstorm.

Courtney said with the trees cleared, it provides less of a safety issue should a car have an accident and slide off the turnpike and helps motorists spot wildlife and even helps winter storm operations.

“It helps more sunlight hit the road, which is important during snowy or icy conditions because it melts the snow quicker, which helps us use les material on the road,” Courtney said.

Courtney said the work is part of the Maine Turnpike Authority’s on-going roadside clearing. It is the first time such work has been done in the Scarborough/South Portland, Sabbatus, Litchfield/Gardiner areas. In 2016 a section of the turnpike roadside in Auburn/Lewiston and West Gardiner to Augusta was cleared by Drew Corp. Last year, Comprehensive Land Technologies cleared sections of the turnpike in Portland and along the Falmouth Spur.

“They always structure the work to be done in the wintertime so it doesn’t happen during peak season. Typically they are able to be completed before June,” Courtney said.

Although delays are not expected, Maine Turnpike Authority officials do urge motorists to be careful and stay alert while driving through the areas where the $376,700 project is taking place.

Aside from the clearing work, the Maine Turnpike Authority has a number of projects in the Scarborough/South Portland area listed in its 4-year capital improvement plan for 2018, including widening the Exit 44 southbound on ramp, replacing Cummings Road with a new bridge (through 2020), continued work on the Exit 44 toll, bridge repair on Running Hill Road. In 2019, the Exit 45 interchange could see a renovation (through 2021) and in 2020, there may be some pavement work between Saco and Scarborough.

Between 2019 and 2024, the median between Exit 46 in South Portland and Exit 49 in Portland may be renovated to improve drainage and to replace the grass median and guard rail with a concrete barrier. In the final year of the plan – 2021 – the interchange signs would be replaced between Exit 45 in South Portland and Exit 48 in Portland.

The Maine Turnpike Authority is not the only group planning improvement work in the Scarborough/South Portland area over the next few years. The Maine Department of Transportation has a number of highway, bridge and other transportation work outlined in its more than $2.3 billion 2018- 2019-2020 Work Plan.

For this year, in South Portland, the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) is planning a bridge protective coating, mechanical work, sidewalk improvements and upgrades to the control room on the Casco Bay Bridge, bridge improvements at Exit 4 on Interstate 295 southbound and brush removal on Interstate 295 from Exit 44 in Scarborough to the Portland-Falmouth line.

In 2019/2020, DOT plans to improve lighting on the Casco Bay Bridge, rehabilitation of Lincoln Street, Billy Vachon Drive, safety improvements on Route 77 and Broadway near Evans Street, bicycle and pedestrian improvements on Route 1, bridge painting on Interstate 295/Westbrook Street Bridge over Route 9 and bridge culvert rehabilitation on Interstate 295/ Red Brook Bridge toward Portland.

According to DOT officials, the sidewalk work was last done on the Casco Bay Bridge three years ago and the concrete sealing four years ago. Lighting and mechanical work is typically done every year.

In Scarborough, in 2018, the department would like to do pedestrian and bicyclist improvements on Gorham Road from Adams Way to Hannaford Drive and through a partnership with the town, do road rehabilitation from Hannaford Drive to Maple Avenue.

The department is also planning highway paving on sections of Mussey Road, Broadturn Road, Payne Road and Holmes Road, as well as drainage maintenance by Route 22 and Saco Street and structural maintenance on the bridge on Pleasant Hill Road that crosses over the Boston and Maine railroad. In 2019/2020, the department plans highway paving, safety improvements and guard rail replacement on the Scarborough Connector from Scarborough to South Portland.

The work on the Scarborough Connector (Route 701) will begin in summer 2019, at the earliest, but according to the DOT, it may be “pushed off until 2020 in lieu of other roads that are deteriorating more quickly.” The work, once it begins, will be done at night and one lane in each direction would remain open at all times.

In 2019/2020, the department also plans to begin work to extend the Eastern Trail between Wainwright Field in South Portland and the Nonesuch River in Scarborough.

“These projects are all important from a safety standpoint, but they are also critical to our economic vitality,” Sen. Amy Volk said in a press release about the Scarborough projects in the work plan. “We need to have fully functional roads and bridges in order to remain competitive with other states, and I believe these projects will help achieve that. The funding to close the gap on the Eastern Trail is especially exciting for many of my constituents.”

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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