Proposed turnpike spur gains legislative traction

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A Legislative bill, if approved, would authorize construction of a spur linking Maine Turnpike with Route 114 in South Gorham, likely in the area shown here at the Bernard P. Rines Bypass roundabout.

A Legislative bill, if approved, would authorize construction of a spur linking Maine Turnpike with Route 114 in South Gorham, likely in the area shown here at the Bernard P. Rines Bypass roundabout.

AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Transportation voted unanimously Tuesday to advance a measure authorizing a spur linking Route 114 in South Gorham to a Maine Turnpike interchange.

The bill aims to reduce  to reduce congestion in Gorham and the surrounding communities, the House Democratic Office announced.

“(Tuesday’s) unanimous vote out of committee indicates that this project not only has local and regional importance, but is also important to the entire state’s economy,” Rep. Andrew McLean, D-Gorham, sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

The measure, LD 905, will face further votes in  the House and Senate. The spur is aimed at easing traffic congestion in the routes 22 and 114 corridor in Gorham, Scarborough, South Portland and Westbrook. It would link with the turnpike in the area of exit 45, which accesses Maine Mall Road and Payne Road. The bill would allow the Maine Turnpike Authority to borrow up to $150 million to plan, design and build the project.

“This project is an opportunity to grow our downtowns and preserve our village communities,” said McLean. “In Gorham, our village is intersected by routes 114 and 25 – for Maine, they are major thoroughfares. To reduce the traffic by 25 or even 50 percent could have a very positive impact on our downtown.”

Construction also hinges on an evaluation of alternatives as required by the Sensible Transportation Policy Act.

McLean, representing parts of Gorham and Scarborough, is the House chair of the Transportation Committee.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or rlowell@keepmecurrent.com.