The Third Bridge (Route 3), which spans over the Kennebec River, was built in 2004 to relieve overcrowding on the two existing bridges over the Kennebec River. The new bridge provides a northern bypass of the City Center, relieving congestion caused by truck traffic.
Project Type:Bridge Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:16,430 Length (mi):3.00
Economic Distress:0.98 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):139 Population Growth Rate (%):0.44
Employment Growth Rate (%):1.21 Market Size:74,076 Airport Travel Distance:10 Topography:10
Region:New England/Mid-Atlantic State:ME County:County
City:Augusta Urban/Class Level:Mixed Local Area:N/A
Impact Area:County Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:44.334843 / -69.764046
Initial Study Date:N/A Post Constr. Study Date:2007
Constr. Start Date:2002 Constr. End Date:2004
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): N/A Planned Cost (YOE $):38,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):34,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):39,784,250
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||32.87||30.67||63.54|
|Output (in $M's)||79.15||73.87||153.02|
Augusta, Maine's capital has 18,500 residents and 19,000 jobs. The $34 million (2003$'s) Third Bridge, over the Kennebec River was built in 2004 to relieve overcrowding on the two existing bridges over the Kennebec River. The new bridge provided a northern bypass of the City Center, relieving congestion caused by truck traffic. This has significantly improved the environment in the city center and the neighborhoods in the northwestern quadrant of the city. Since the new bridge was constructed, investment in retail and entertainment space in the corridor has created 750 retail and restaurant jobs.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Augusta is located in the center of Kennebec County in southern Maine about 40 miles from the coast. The city is bisected by the Kennebec River, over which the Third Bridge is constructed. Augusta is a one-hour drive (55 miles) north of Portland. The Lewiston-Auburn metro area, Maine's chief transportation and logistics center is 40 minutes (30 miles) south. I-95 and I-295, serving commuters to and from Portland's center and its suburbs, intersect just south of Portland.
I-95 connects Augusta with Maine's Downeast Coastal resorts and with Boston (135 miles, 3 hours) and runs north to the New Brunswick Border (200 miles, 3 hours). Eastern Maine Railroad and Central Maine Railroad run freight connections to Madison, and Bath, ME. Greyhound and Concord commuter buses provide peak service to Boston. Fuelled largely by demand from state officials, US Air has 7 daily flights to Boston (1 hour, $200) from Augusta State Airport.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
In 2000, there were more jobs in Augusta than people -- 19,000 jobs compared with 18,500 residents. A significant amount of commuting occurs between Augusta, Lewiston-Auburn, and Portland. Unemployment rates in the County are generally consistent with rates elsewhere in the State of Maine, and about 1.6 percentage points lower than the national average. The majority of employment opportunities in Augusta are found in healthcare, public administration and retail.
As the capital of Maine and seat of state government, Augusta has Maine's largest concentration of government employment. The Governmental activities are supported by financial institutions, law firms, and consultants. Health care institutions in the region also account for a large share of service sector employment.
Augusta has a significant cluster of sizeable private employers including Central Maine Power Company, who serves customers throughout the state; and SCI Systems, where computer peripherals are produced. Microdyne, a technology services company, has a facility here. As a result of its central Maine location, Augusta is a major regional distribution center. The city has traditionally been a market center for the surrounding rural areas. This role has strengthened recent years. Retail sales have doubled in the past decade.
Planning for the Third Bridge began in the early 1990s, as a way of reducing congestion within the city of Augusta, diverting truck traffic, reducing pollution, and improving safety. The four-lane, 0.2 mile Third Bridge across the Kennebec River, completed in 2004, was built to relieve congestion on Augusta's other two Bridges which are south of the Third Bridge (Calumet and Memorial Bridges). The bridge also provides a northern bypass for the city center. As part of the project, Route 3 was extended to span 3.2 miles between I-95 and Route 202. In the middle of the expansion is the Third Bridge, a 0.2 mile long structure with two lanes in each direction.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Before and after traffic counts show that the Third Bridge diverted a substantial amount of traffic from the city center of Augusta. Between 2003 and 2006, traffic on Western Avenue, Bangor Street, and North Belfast Avenue was reduced by between 20 to 50 percent. Concomitantly, traffic was reduced by 25 and 34 percent on the city's other two bridges over the Kennebec River as traffic was diverted to the Third Bridge.
Before the construction of the Third Bridge, the roundabouts on both sides of the river were highly congested and unsafe. More than 150 crashes a year were attributed to congestion that was relieved by the bridge. The $34 million (2004$) bridge and road extension project was funded by Maine DOT and FHWA (Federal-aid funds).
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
The full impacts of The Third Bridge are still unfolding. In addition to diverting truck traffic from the city center, the Third Bridge decreased travel time between eastern Augusta and I-95, improving access to coastal communities. The removal of long haul truck traffic from city center streets has improved the pedestrian environment and has attracted investment in new retail and entertainment uses. This has prompted the city to develop a plan to transform Augusta into a vibrant capital city with mixed-use development including townhouses along the river, restaurants, walkways, and specialty retail.
Since the construction of the Third Bridge, MarketPlace at Augusta, a power center anchored by Home Depot and Kohl's, expanded, creating 750 new jobs. According to one of the developers, Maine DOT would not have permitted this expansion unless roadway capacity constraints were relieved by the construction of the Third Bridge.
Since completion of the project, Augusta Crossing, a 460,000 square feet open-air shopping center on the Western Avenue and I-95 has been opened 6 miles south of the new Third Bridge, with 700 jobs. The bridge may have affected the choice of this location for the shopping center, but the new jobs are not considered to be directly attributable to the project. Overall, between 2003 and 2006, retail employment in Kennebec County increased 7.8 percent and total employment as a whole increased 3.7 percent.
The city of Augusta has rezoned some key parcels of land on sites created by the Bridge and the extended Route 3. The area within one-third of a mile of the bridge has been zoned for commercial development. The sites created by the rezoning with allow for the relocation of auto-serving businesses, like gas stations, repair shops, and car sales lots, and other related businesses.
Property values in Augusta have increased, especially those on the east part of Augusta, partly because of access improvements to I-95. For example, before the construction of the Third Bridge, a trip from Riggs Brook Village, on the east side of the bridge, to I-95 would take about 30 minutes. After the Third Bridge construction, the same trip takes 5 minutes.
Two regulatory changes may have influenced achievement of project benefits. In 2010, Congress passed a bill increasing truck weight limits from 80,000 lbs. to 100,000 lbs on I-95 north of Augusta. Prior to 2010, trucks over 80,000 lbs had to exit I-95 at Augusta and travel through the city of Augusta. However, with the new legislation, the Third Bridge can be used for those higher weight vehicles. Second, access to Route 3 is limited to I-95, Routes 104, 201 and 202, which precludes the development of strip malls along the Third Bridge corridor. This restriction bolsters the city's plans for downtown redevelopment.
Airport IQ: http://www.gcr1.com/5010web/airport.cfm?Site=AUG
Bicycle Tourism in Maine ? Economic Impacts and Marketing Recommendations: www.maine.gov/mdot/opt/pdf/biketourismexecsumm.pdf
Guilford Rail System website: http://www.guilfordrail.com/Maps/map.htm
Kennebec Valley Council of Governments. ?Kennebec Valley Regional Transportation Assessment 2005?. 2005. www.kvcog.org/Planners/Transportation%20System/RNA%20draft.pdf
KV Transit website: http://www.kvcap.org/trans-kvtransit.php
New England Environmental Finance Center, ?A Brief History of Maine Rural Development Policy? 2007
New England Environmental Finance Center, ?Augusta, ME: The New Bridge Begets a New Planned Neighborhood.? August 2006
The City of Augusta, ?City of August 2007 Comprehensive Plan. Volume One: Strategy.? January 2008. http://augustame.govoffice3.com/
The City of Augusta, ?City of August 2007 Comprehensive Plan. Volume Two: Inventory.? January 2008. http://augustame.govoffice3.com/
U.S. Census website: www.census.gov
OrganizationKennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce MarketPlace Shopping Center NRF Distributors Office of Economic & Community Development City of Augusta Traffic Analysis Section, Maine DOT