North Carolina Department of Transportation video

October 19, 2012

Freeport Exit 20 targeted for unusual upgrade

The proposed 'diverging diamond interchange' would be the first in Maine.

By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

FREEPORT — The Maine Department of Transportation is considering an unusual road project to improve traffic flow at Exit 20 of Interstate 295.

click image to enlarge

This diagram show the "diverging diamond" concept MDOT is proposing as a possilbe solution to traffic backups at the Desert Road interchange on I-295.

MDOT diagram

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For more information on MDOT's plan for the Desert Road interchange in Freeport, click here.

The estimated $1 million project would reorient traffic lanes on Desert Road as it crosses the overpass at I-295, adding figure-eight intersections and traffic lights near the highway's on- and off-ramps.

Known as a "diverging diamond interchange," it would be the first of its kind in Maine, said Albert Presgraves, the town's engineer.

Department of Transportation officials will hold an informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 30 at the Freeport Community Center, at 53 Depot St.

The project's goal is to reduce traffic congestion at the exit, especially on the southbound off-ramp, according to a flier that the department mailed to Freeport residents this week.

The interchanges have been built recently in several other states, including Missouri, Utah, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland and New York. Many other states are considering them.

Proponents say the design eliminates risky left turns and reduces congestion by as much as 60 percent, according to Popular Science magazine. Critics say it can be confusing to uninitiated drivers.

As proposed, the state would pay $500,000, L.L.Bean would pay $250,000 and the town would pay $250,000, Presgraves said.

State officials have met several times with town leaders in developing the conceptual plan, Town Council Chairman Jim Cassida said Friday in an email to constituents.

Cassida said state and local officials want to hear from the public before going forward with the project. The council has yet to vote on funding the town's share of the work.

If approved, construction will begin next spring, Presgraves said.

L.L. Bean wants to address congestion at the exit to improve access to its store in the village and to its order fulfillment center on the west side of I-295, Presgraves said.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

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