I-295 Over Veranda Street Bridge Replacement
Submitted by: Cianbro, HNTB Corp. and Maine Dept. of Transportation
Owner: Maine Dept. of Transportation
Lead Design Firm: HNTB Corp.
General Contractor: Cianbro Corp.
Engineering Subconsultants: GPI; TYLin International
Modular Transporters: Mammoet
Subcontractors: Shaw Brothers Construction Inc.; CJ Geo Contractors
The efficient replacement of the aging crossing in Maine’s largest city showcased the advantages of accelerated bridge construction techniques. A process that would have required four years of disruptive construction using conventional methods was cut in half, while motorist delays were reduced by 80% during the period, says the team.
The project centerpiece was a meticulously planned 60-hour weekend closure of I-295. New abutments were built below the old bridge, and new northbound and southbound spans were crafted adjacent to the interstate, allowing the team to work farther from active traffic and lower to the ground, further enhancing jobsite safety.
In the weeks leading up to the closure, MaineDOT enacted a comprehensive public outreach and education campaign encouraging motorists to avoid the area.
These efforts reduced traffic on I-295 in the Portland area by 40% and avoided gridlock on surrounding roadways. This critical outcome cut congestion-related crashes and ensured emergency responders could reach Maine Medical Center in Portland—the region’s largest and best-equipped trauma center—without significant delays.
Photo courtesy of HNTB Corp.
Planning for every potential issue ensured that the project team could make the most of the closure window. As soon as traffic was stopped, work began on demolishing the existing structure and rolling a preconstructed bridge into place using self-propelled modular transporters—the state’s first-ever such application of this technology.
A novel embankment design combining lightweight geofoam and foamed concrete fill to mitigate post-construction settlement minimized earthwork during the interstate closure, key to achieving the tight timetable.
To reduce worker downtime, MaineDOT and the contractor paid for a food truck to provide free onsite meals to the roughly 300 team members working throughout the weekend. The effort was so efficient that I-295 was reopened to traffic four hours ahead of schedule—well in advance of the Monday morning rush hour.
With the highway reopened, reconstruction of Veranda Street proceeded through the summer and was completed on schedule.
Girders treated with a galvanized coating and pigmented anti-graffiti coating on the abutments will enhance the bridge’s durability and appearance while reducing maintenance costs. The highway embankments include more than 700 landscape plantings to soften the lines of the project, provide a visual buffer and enhance the overall area.
Photo courtesy Maine Dept. of Transportation
The innovative approach also enhanced safety, with no recordable incidents or lost-time accidents recorded over nearly 65,600 work hours, the team says. Yet the project’s cost proved similar to that using conventional construction methods.
In addition, the project’s local roadway improvements eliminate what had been a confusing layout of the former Veranda Street and I-295 southbound on-ramp intersection, resulting in Maine’s seventh-highest crash rate.
The new design modernizes and simplifies Veranda Street, reduces speed and provides dedicated spaces for bicycles and pedestrians, significantly improving safety for all users.