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Updated: February 6, 2024

After years of waiting — in traffic — plans for Gorham turnpike spur are unveiled

Courtesy / Maine Turnpike Authority Traffic backs up on State Route 22, known as County Road, near Saco Street in Scarborough.

Thousands of residents and businesses in Portland's western suburbs may at last catch a break from the long traffic backups that increasingly clog the region's roadways.

The Maine Turnpike Authority on Monday unveiled its plan for a 4.5-mile spur between the highway and Gorham, potentially whisking many commuters and other drivers off over-used local streets and back roads.

The Gorham Connector, as the proposed spur has already been called, would meet the turnpike at Exit 45, in South Portland. In the west, the connector would stretch to the junction of the Gorham Bypass with Route 114, south of Gorham Village.

In between, the connector would follow an S-shaped path, designed to skirt environmentally sensitive areas and to avoid disruptions with homes and businesses, the MTA said in a news release.

Some details still have to be worked out, and the authority says it doesn't know how much the project would cost until the design is finalized.

But there's one certainty: The spur would be a toll road. Money collected would pay for construction and maintenance, without requiring taxpayer dollars, according to the MTA. (The authority, a quasi-public agency, is not eligible to receive state or federal funds.)

Courtesy / Maine Turnpike Authority
The proposed roadway alignment for the Gorham Connector is shown in yellow.

The idea for the Gorham Connector has been floated for over two decades. There's also been discussion of alternative proposals, such as widening some of the current roads.

in 2007, the municipalities of Gorham, Scarborough, South Portland and Westbrook signed a joint resolution requesting MTA to assess the feasibility of a new turnpike connector linking the Gorham Bypass with the Maine Turnpike. The Maine Legislature also passed a companion resolution at that time.

The MTA says it's been working closely with the towns, cities and the Maine Department of Transportation. A public input process on the project is now scheduled to begin next month.

It's estimated that 140,000 people travel into Portland each day. About 16,000 of them use state routes 22, 25, 112 and 114, as well as local roads. 

Detailed traffic projections show that Gorham Connector would take upwards of 50% of traffic off the busiest local roads in Gorham, with a 30% reduction in vehicles on a section of Route 22 and Route 114.

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