Do You Remember When the Maine Turnpike Used Pace Cars on the Highway?
The Maine Turnpike has been working for several years on widening the highway, adding a third lane through Portland from Exit 44 which connects I-295 all the way up to Exit 48 for Westbrook. Many of us remember it as Exit 8 before they renumbered all the exits based on mile markers.
This isn't the first time that the Maine Turnpike has widened a portion of the highway to three lanes. In the 1990s Maine Turnpike was widened to three lanes from Kittery to mile 43, just before Exit 44 to I-295. It wasn't without controversy as Maine voters stopped the widening in 1991 deciding more planning and study needed to be done.
Construction finally got underway in 1997. Barricades and orange barrels went up as construction workers started the project. As with any highway construction zone, speed limits were lowered for the safety of workers, yet no one seemed to obey them, so someone came up with a solution to the problem.
Two dump trucks would travel back and forth on the busiest parts of the Turnpike staggered next to each other in each of the two lanes, acting as pace cars to force drivers to obey the speed limit. There was no way drivers could get around these trucks until they turned around to go in the other direction.
25 years later, that same problem is happening through Portland, with the majority of drivers going much faster than the 50 mph construction zone through all of Portland. Maybe it's time to bring the pace trucks back? With construction nearly completed, it's probably too late for that.
If you're one of those drivers who blow past the 50 mph speed limit signs without blinking an eye, please, slow down when construction workers are present. Their lives are on the line being that close to speeding vehicles. If you happen to get stopped by Maine State Troopers for speeding in the work zone, your fine will be doubled. If you're going 20 mph over the speed limit and you get caught, that ticket with a fine normally of $230 now becomes $460. Ouch.