Memorial Day Weekend is upon us; the unofficial start of summer in Maine. The weather has felt very much like summer recently, so there's no doubt we will have a huge influx of tourists coming to our little corner of the country.

According to WABI-TV, the Maine Turnpike Authority is expecting 2% more traffic than last Memorial Day weekend, when 1,008,927 vehicles went through the tolls. Some quick math shows that 2% more than last year works out to 1,029,106 vehicles this weekend. That's a lot of traffic to cross the border into Maine. But there's a solution to traffic congestion at the border that will be tested to the limits this weekend.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Late last year, the Maine DOT and New Hampshire DOT teamed up to install a $9.4 million PTSU system. PTSU stands for" Dynamic Part-Time Shoulder Use", and it's just what it sounds like.

At times of congestion between Exit 3 in Maine and Exit 3 in New Hampshire, drivers may be able to use the breakdown lane for travel.

In order to do that, the PTSU system uses signals over the lanes that show either a green arrow, a yellow X, or a red X. The green arrow means the lane is open for travel. A yellow X, which will be in the breakdown lane, means the lane is closing as a travel lane, so do not enter it. The red X means the lane is closed to all traffic, except in an emergency.

Maine Turnpike Authority
Maine Turnpike Authority

In addition to the lane signals, there are flashing warning signs at the on-ramps near the PTSU system. This way, drivers know that the shoulder is open for travel, and to use extra caution when merging onto the highway, as there may be someone in the breakdown lane that drivers will want to yield to.

The system is online, but I have yet to see the breakdown lane open. You can bet that it will be on Friday, and possibly throughout the weekend.

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