Maine Turnpike put L-A, state within the quick lane for commerce, tourism

The Maine Turnpike is celebrating its seventy fifth anniversary this 12 months. A particular assortment of historical past and interviews marks the event. Maine Turnpike Authority

There was a time when Maine residents or summer season guests would journey right here by steamship or rail, usually solely utilizing an car for the ultimate few miles of the journey, if in any respect.

However, by the Nineteen Thirties, extra reliable automobiles — and roads — modified that. In just some quick years, the “flood of site visitors choking Maine’s southern stretch of Route 1 turned a serious headache,” which led to severe talks in regards to the creation of a “superhighway.”

That historical past and an entire lot extra is included in a complete historical past of the Maine Turnpike, compiled for its seventy fifth anniversary this 12 months, which credit the freeway for jumpstarting the state’s economic system and tourism business.

“For 75 years, the Maine Turnpike has been the gateway for Maine commerce and mobility, invigorating the state’s economic system and making the distinctive pure magnificence, arts, tradition and delicacies of Maine accessible for thousands and thousands,” the turnpike’s web site states.

It depicts the turnpike as an financial driver at a time when a number of Maine industries had been faltering, together with textile and paper mills, shoemaking, agriculture and extra.

“Many Maine manufacturers are a lot older, however few have had the widespread impression that the Maine Turnpike has had on the state’s financial well being, and within the some ways it has supplied incremental modifications within the high quality of life loved by the overwhelming majority of Mainers,” stated Erin Courtney, MTA’s public outreach supervisor.

The creation of the Maine Turnpike Authority was accredited by the Legislature in 1941, however the nation’s entrance into World Conflict II put the challenge on maintain. Very similar to the remainder of the U.S., when the conflict was over in 1945, an explosion of building and infrastructure initiatives started, together with the Maine Turnpike.

Three officers from York County — George Varney, speaker of the Maine Home; George Lord of Wells, a freeway commissioner; and Rep. Joseph Sayward of Kennebunk — are credited with spearheading the challenge, a direct response to the Route 1 site visitors complications and inspiration from the nation’s first “superhighway” in Pennsylvania.

The unique 47-mile turnpike formally opened on Dec. 13, 1947. The toll from Kittery to Portland was 50 cents. It was America’s second superhighway, and was the world’s first asphalt freeway, full with roadside service stations and toll cubicles.

Its opening coincided with increasingly more Individuals proudly owning automobiles. Revenues elevated 160% over the turnpike’s first 4 years. In its first 12 months, 1.5 million automobiles traveled the turnpike; by 1964, annual site visitors had reached 5 million. It doubled once more by 1971.

The gathering of seventy fifth anniversary movies on the web site additionally reveals the numerous expansions of the freeway, as much as the latest work to widen the turnpike within the Portland space.

A further 66 miles between Portland and Augusta — taking vacationers by means of Lewiston and Auburn — had been inbuilt 1954, regardless of the wettest stretch of climate Maine had seen in 50 years. In 154 working days, it rained on 97 of them, together with two hurricanes.

This photograph reveals the nation’s second “superhighway,” the Maine Turnpike, underneath building. Opening in 1947, it was additionally the primary asphalt freeway. Maine Turnpike Authority

Initially, the state deliberate to show administration of the Maine Turnpike over to the Maine Division of Transportation as soon as all turnpike debt was paid off, eliminating the necessity for tolls. However, by the early Eighties, the value of fuel and different bills made the MDOT incapable of taking it on, and state officers reached a brand new settlement.

The toll freeway continued, and from then on 25% of all turnpike income was given to the MDOT to fund different state bridge and street work.

Within the turnpike’s fiftieth 12 months, in 1997, Maine voters accredited a referendum to widen 30 miles of the turnpike to a few lanes — often known as “the widening.” The primary “Trans Move” system — now often known as E-Z Move — was additionally unveiled the identical 12 months, automating toll collections.

Two years later, tolls had been faraway from the Lewiston and Auburn interchanges to permit the north finish to function as an “open barrier system,” changing the earlier ticket system the place tolls had been decided by the gap traveled or variety of exits handed.

In recent times, the turnpike has expanded E-Z Move entry to incorporate massive high-speed lanes for computerized tolling. A widening challenge between exits 44-48 within the Portland space is on monitor to be accomplished in 2023.

In 2013, 62 million automobiles traveled the turnpike.

The anniversary materials additionally options quick interviews with present and former MTA workers, showcasing the lengthy historical past and altering dynamics of the business.

One longtime turnpike worker, Lucille Murphy, talks about her years working in “violations imaging,” or checking license plate pictures of non-payers — possible one of many extra unpopular jobs from an outsider’s perspective.

She processes some 2,000 a day. From there, another person sends out letters, or collects the cash from an current account.

When requested about which out-of-state license plate she sees essentially the most, she affords a take widespread with most Mainers: Massachusetts.

One other interview, that includes Andy Dyke and his father, Jody Dyke, describes a household custom of engaged on the freeway — three generations taking good care of the street throughout totally different eras.

Andy Dyke, a upkeep foreman based mostly in Grey, plowed snow in that space of the turnpike. So did his father Jody, and his grandfather earlier than him.

“The three of us truly labored proper out of the identical storage bay,” Jody Dyke stated. “I grew up listening to the tales from my dad, and he (Andy) grew up listening to tales from me.”

Jody Dyke stated he remembers listening to about his father standing at the back of the plow truck throughout a winter storm and throwing sand out by hand.

“Now you simply push a button and all of it occurs for you,” he stated. “Ya, we’ve developed fairly a bit.”

For extra info or to observe the anniversary content material, go to

The Maine Turnpike, pictured right here close to Exit 32 in Biddeford, turns 75 this 12 months. Maine Turnpike Authority

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