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MTA predicting Labor Day weekend traffic to be near pre-pandemic levels

Maine Turnpike Authority Logo FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 02, 2021
Erin Courtney
CONTACT: Dan Morin (MTA)

MTA predicting Labor Day weekend traffic to be near pre-pandemic levels

Employees wave final goodbye to tourists on Labor Day at existing York Toll

PORTLAND, Maine - This year’s Labor Day, summer’s unofficial end date, also marks the end of an era for Maine Turnpike Authority:  The tradition of Turnpike employees saying thank-you and so-long to southbound travelers at the York Toll Plaza.  With the new toll plaza at Mile 8.8 slated to open mid-September, this is the last Labor Day where travelers will be stopping to pay their tolls at the existing location.
As expected, traffic is predicted to be heavy, and Turnpike representatives — including a return of “Miles the Moose,” the Turnpike’s costumed mascot — will take advantage of slowed traffic at the toll plaza for its twentieth year to give away thousands of Maine-made parting gifts: bottles of Poland Spring Water and Wicked Whoopies.
“We’ll start handing out our Maine-made treats as soon as traffic builds up enough that we aren’t slowing motorists down.  That will likely be around 10 AM on Labor Day,” said Erin Courtney, Public Outreach Manager for the Maine Turnpike Authority. “This is always a fun thing for us to do. We really do appreciate our customers and we’re so glad we get one last chance to do this down at York.”
Courtney pointed out that not only do out-of-state visitors have such a major impact on Maine’s economy, but their tolls also account for about two-thirds of the Turnpike’s annual revenue.
MTA expects traffic volumes to be up this year compared to 2020, which was impacted by the pandemic. Year-to-date traffic through August 2021 is up 22 percent compared to the same period in 2020. Through August 2021, MTA has recorded over 55.3 million transactions, although in 2019, that figure was 56.5 million.
Still, more than 1 million vehicles are anticipated once again to travel the Maine Turnpike from Friday through Monday of this Labor Day weekend.  In comparison to MTA’s record-breaking year in 2019, traffic for the four-day period is expected to be down slightly, by about 3%.  Peak traffic volumes and times are as follows:

  • Friday - Volume heaviest northbound between the hours of 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM 
  • Saturday – Busiest hours are between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM in both directions (which is anticipated to be the busiest of all four days system wide).
  • Monday – Volume heaviest southbound between the hours of 12:00 noon and 7:00 PM
Preliminary traffic numbers from the Holiday weekend will be available on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 by 12:00 PM.
This is the final year for the Maine Turnpike tradition of face-to-face farewells with outbound Maine visitors as MTA’s new toll plaza at Mile 8.8 in York is anticipated to go on line Wednesday, September 15, 2021.
The new tolling facility features six, highway-speed E-ZPass center lanes, three in each direction, with overhead, open-frame gantries equipped with electronic toll-collection technology that complete automatic tolling transactions in nanoseconds. The new toll plaza will also have nine cash lanes with tollbooths, four northbound and five southbound. 
Moosepad-Labor-Day-2002-(1).png      Miles-2015.JPG
Photos of Miles then (2002) and now (2015).