Maine Medical Center, in conjunction with the City of Portland, will detour traffic away from Congress Street between Forest and Weymouth streets for eight weeks starting May 7.
The detour will accommodate a large construction crane needed to add three floors with 225 additional spaces on top of MMC’s visitor parking garage.
The parking garage construction and addition of two floors onto MMC’s East Tower comprise Phase 1 of the medical center’s $512 million expansion and modernization project. The first phase of the project was approved by the city of Portland Planning Board on March 27, and preparatory work on both the East Tower and visitor parking garage has been underway for several weeks. The visitor garage expansion is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 while the East Tower is scheduled to be completed by late 2019.
The Congress Street detour was developed through multiple meetings with numerous city departments, including Traffic, Parking, Police, Fire and Planning, and was informed by meetings with neighborhood associations, residents and local businesses, including the Portland Sea Dogs.
“This detour will allow Maine Medical Center to safely and efficiently add 225 much-needed parking spaces to serve our patients and guests,” said Jeff Sanders, MMC Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “We developed the route carefully, in full collaboration with the city and other key stakeholders, and we are committed to re-opening Congress Street as scheduled. We thank the community for its input and understanding as we make this important investment in our collective future.”
Traffic coming into the city on Congress Street will be directed to take St. John Street to Park Avenue. Drivers can then return to Congress via Weymouth Street, or by taking other routes depending on their destination. Outbound traffic will follow the detour in reverse, taking Weymouth Street or other routes to Park Avenue.
MMC and City officials will carefully monitor all aspects of the detour as it gets underway, ready to respond with any adjustments or changes needed to improve traffic flow or address safety concerns. The detour will be fully signed, and signage will be installed well ahead of the construction area to fully inform motorists as early as possible. In addition, electronic variable message signs noting the detour have been deployed on I-295, allowing motorists to consider other exit ramps by which to enter Portland.
“We have brought many important perspectives to the table as we considered the detour alternatives, and are confident we developed a strong plan,” said Portland City Manager Jon Jennings. “We want to stress that area businesses remain open and that we are doing everything possible to make sure they are not adversely impacted during this phase of the project. If any issues arise, we will address them swiftly and fully,” Jennings said. “We absolutely recognize the importance of making this detour work for MMC and the city’s residents, businesses and visitors.”
Hospital patients and guests can access MMC’s visitor parking garage via Gilman Street through a special entrance that passes through the MMC employee parking garage. Emergency patients and those who are scheduled for surgery should follow signage to the Emergency Department entrance where complimentary valet parking (cars will be stored at a nearby, off-site parking garage) be available. Details, including a detour map, are available at www.mmc.org/modernization.
Several METRO routes – 1, 9A, 9B and BREEZ – will detour off Congress Street to Park Avenue during the partial street closure. Bus stops along Congress Street between Weymouth and St. John streets will not be accessible during construction. METRO passengers should board buses on Park Avenue during the closure. Schedule delays may occur, as other traffic will also be detoured to Park Avenue. Updates and information will be posted on METRO’s website at gpmetrobus.com
Altogether, MMC’s $512 million project will create 128 new private patient rooms, add 19 procedure rooms for surgeries and other complex treatments, provide an additional 225 spaces for patient and visitor parking, and consolidate MMC employee parking into one nearby garage that will meet current demand and future growth. The project will also open Maine Medical Center to Congress Street with a new building and entrance that is expected to significantly enhance a major gateway to the city. Overall, the project optimizes bed capacity at the state’s largest hospital and modernizes its aging facilities.