PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation is closing a major highway and causing traffic disruptions — on purpose.
The closure of a key segment of I-295 in Portland this weekend represents a grand experiment in which workers demolish the old bridge and slide a new one into place in 64 hours, or less than three days.
The section of highway between Portland and Falmouth closed Friday evening and won’t reopen again until Monday afternoon.
MDOT officials have been warning residents for months but they still anticipate major traffic problems as motorists seek alternate routes and clog lesser-used roadways in the region. On a typical weekday, about 53,000 vehicles use that stretch of I-295.
The technique of prefabricating a bridge and quickly moving it into place is the construction equivalent of ripping off a Band-Aid.
It reduces highway disruptions to several days compared to an estimated four years of disruptions during typical construction, officials said. This is the first time MDOT has tried the technique.
The $20.8 million project calls for workers to destroy the existing bridge, remove the rubble and use massive self-propelled transporters to lift the prefabricated bridge deck into place, officials said.
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