When MaineDOT begins the reconstruction of Maine Mall Road in South Portland on Monday, July 20, it will be breaking ground in more ways than one. The project, which involves the section of Maine Mall Road between Philbrook Avenue and the Maine Mall Entrance south of Gorham Road, is the first application of a porous paving system on a high-volume public road in the Northeast. Porous pavement’s coarser stone gives the asphalt the texture of rice cake snacks, but more importantly, it allows rain and snowmelt to pass through the surface to the gravel and sand filtering system below. The environmental benefit is the reduction of untreated runoff directly to surface water, such as nearby Long Creek.
With funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, MaineDOT is addressing a complex environmental challenge. The Long Creek watershed encompasses 3.45 square miles in South Portland, Westbrook, Portland and Scarborough. Long Creek has seen a great deal of development over the last 50 years which brought new impervious surfaces (rooftops, parking lots, and roads) that increases the amount and rate of flow of storm water runoff to Long Creek, and with it, pollutants, increased water temperatures and higher flow rates. This combination has degraded the quality of Long Creek to the point it does not meet DEP water quality standards.
The Long Creek Restoration Project is a collaborative, community-based initiative convened by the City of South Portland. Their mission is to develop a coordinated watershed restoration plan that will bring the stream back into compliance with state and federal water quality standards, and to open up new recreation opportunities for local residents and visitors. Working with South Portland leaders and participants in the Long Creek Restoration Project, MaineDOT identified the porous paving system as one way to contribute to the Long Creek Restoration Project’s goal of restoring Long Creek and its watershed.
“We’re very pleased to be able to undertake this project, and to employ an innovative engineering solution to improve our environment,” said MaineDOT Project Manager Peter Newkirk, “There’s been a great sense of partnership in the planning for this, and we look forward to completing the project.”
Porous pavement has been used throughout the Northeast on parking lots and low traffic roads and has been used for more than twenty years on busier roads in warmer climates in the U.S. and abroad. MaineDOT engineers have developed a system for Maine Mall Road that includes a multi-layered pavement and infiltration bed. Two layers of permeable paving material totaling nine inches will rest atop a fifteen inch bed of reservoir stone, which in turn will rest upon six inches of a sand filter material. Underdrain pipes will capture the water after it has been filtered through the sand filter. All of this is hidden under an asphalt surface that appears to be more coarse in texture, but otherwise looks normal. In total, the project will retrofit approximately 1.5 acres of impervious surface within the watershed.
“For motorists, the only difference is that they might notice a different sound as they drive over this type of pavement. Pedestrians will notice it’s quieter, and there’s no splashing or spray,” said MaineDOT’s Peter Newkirk.
Because the project requires reconstruction of the Maine Mall Road roadbed, lanes will be closed as work progresses. Two lanes will remain open except for brief interruptions to allow construction vehicles to pass. There is a possibility of delays, so drivers are being advised by MaineDOT to plan ahead and when possible, use alternate routes.
“The intersection of Maine Mall Road and Philbrook Avenue is not being reconstructed and traffic should flow normally to and from the Maine Mall area via Philbrook Avenue and from Gorham Road,” said Meg Lane of the MaineDOT Office of Communications. “Access to the Wyndham Portland Airport Hotel across from the mall will be maintained at all times through the construction zone.”
MaineDOT plans to begin work on Monday, July 20. Work is expected to be completed by the end of October. R. J. Grondin & Sons of Gorham is the contractor for this $1.5 million project.
This project is an addition to several already-completed roadway improvements in the Maine Mall Area, including the widening of Western Avenue, the reconstruction of the Payne Road Bridge, improvements to the intersection of Westbrook Street and Western Avenue, improved turning lanes at Maine Mall Road and Gorham Road, and the construction of the Jetport Plaza Road.
Information on MaineDOT construction projects is available online at www.mainedot.gov. Drivers may sign up for email alerts, and read updated construction schedules.
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