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MTA projects 2.1% increase in traffic for upcoming Holiday weekend

Maine Turnpike Authority Logo FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2024
Erin Courtney
CONTACT: Dan Morin (MTA)

MTA projects 2.1% increase in traffic for upcoming Holiday weekend

Miles the Moose to visit Kennebunk NB Service Plaza 5/24 & shares info about PTSU with travelers

PORTLAND, Maine – More than 1 million vehicles are anticipated to travel the Maine Turnpike from Friday through Monday during the unofficial first weekend of summer. 2023 was a banner year for Maine Turnpike Authority and traffic projections ahead of this Memorial Day weekend suggest the growth in traffic continues. MTA anticipates an increase of approximately 2.1% in vehicle transactions compared to Memorial Day weekend in 2023 when 1,008,927 transactions were recorded.  Friday is anticipated to be the busiest of all four days system wide. 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
  • Monday – Volume heaviest southbound between the hours of noon and 7:00 PM
All construction and maintenance activities on the turnpike will be suspended over the long weekend. However, there are still many construction areas on the Pike that include narrowed lanes and reduced speed zones. Please obey the posted work zone speed limit.
On Friday, May 24, Miles the Maine Turnpike Moose will greet tourists early to enter the State at the Kennebunk northbound plaza from 11:30 to 2:00 PM. Miles will be available for photos and Turnpike staff will be available for interviews.  Miles was a staple at the York Toll Plaza on Labor Day for decades, but with the introduction of the Open Road Tolling at York he has had to find a safer place to greet visitors and has added Memorial Day to his schedule.

MTA Staff will also be sharing information with travelers about the new, dynamic part-time shoulder use (PTSU) system that is now operational for motorists on I-95 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine. This PTSU system is in place on approximately three miles of I-95 – between Exit 5 in New Hampshire and Exit 3 in Maine – including the Piscataqua River Bridge. Designed to reduce congestion and improve safety, the PTSU system will be used during peak travel periods from May through October, during unplanned incidents, and as traffic conditions warrant.

Based on real-time travel conditions, crews at the Maine Turnpike Authority’s Transportation Management and Communications Center in Portland will determine when to allow the right shoulder of the road southbound to be used as an open travel lane while New Hampshire will manage the PTSU northbound. When the PTSU system is activated, motorists will see the system's messaging components (beacons and lane-use signals) turn on to indicate when the shoulder is open for travel. There will also be warning signs with flashing beacons at the on-ramps approaching the system to alert merging traffic when the shoulder lane is open for travel and to use extra caution when merging into the highway. Traffic operators from both states will close the shoulder to traffic when congestion eases, if there’s a motorist in the breakdown lane, or if any other emergency situation warrants the closure of the shoulder. Safety patrols will be increased when the PTSU system is in use.
The PTSU system is the result of a partnership involving the Maine Department of Transportation, the Maine Turnpike Authority, and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. The three agencies also collaborated on a project to rehabilitate and revitalize the Piscataqua River Bridge. That work extended the life of the bridge, added needed safety improvements, and prepared the structure for this new PTSU system.

Green Mountain Communications of Pembroke, New Hampshire is the general contractor for the PTSU system. The contract amount was $9.4 million. The total project cost, including engineering and design work, was approximately $10 million.