Turnpike to buy Lewiston hotel, knock it down for park and ride

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The former Chalet Motel on Lisbon Street in Lewiston may soon be partially demolished by the Maine Turnpike Authority to create 75 spots for a new park-and-ride lot.

LEWISTON — The Maine Turnpike Authority will close this week on the purchase of the former Chalet Motel on Lisbon Street with plans to knock at least half of it down to create 75 spots for a new park-and-ride lot, Executive Director Peter Mills said.

It’s part of a $24 million project that overhauls Exit 80.

The MTA originally considered the former McDonald’s on Lisbon Street for the new park and ride. Bob Stone, the newest MTA member, challenged Mills to take a left turn from the lot.

“‘He said, 'You go in there and try to come back out at commuter hour,’” Mills said. “So I did. I said, ‘You’re right.’”

Stone, a Lewiston native, said he was familiar with the stretch.

“People are flying both ways,” he said. “I’m all about safety; that’s why I lobbied for that.”

Mills said the MTA had the former hotel under contract for $400,000. The coming work at Exit 80 is a four-part, multi-year project, he said, with the first designs nearly complete.

“Phase 1 will build two ramps by the turnpike, one new exit and one new entrance adjacent to Gendron property,” he said. “That work could be commenced this construction season and be built in the space of 10 or 12 months.”

It likely means the loss of one or both of the park-and-ride lots on Alfred Plourde Parkway. The two combined have 75 to 80 spaces, used now by drivers hopping on the turnpike and workers taking Route 196 to Bath Iron Works.

Mills said the MTA is studying whether to knock down half of the hotel and find a buyer for the 42-room half-hotel left behind or knock it all down to create 150 parking spaces.

“I don’t think the MTA should be in the hotel business or property management business,” Stone said. “I say knock it down and have plenty of room for growth. As energy costs continue to rise, there will be a lot more car-pooling.”


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While we're on the turnpike

While we're on the turnpike subject,why do we need people collecting money to get on the pike? Just think how much could be saved if
we went back to the coin system.Starting pay at $18 plus dollars
plus benefits,double time on holidays,retirement, you don't have
to give any of that to a machine only a little oil now and then.
The coin system work well for years why did it change?
Is that what the unions wanted?
How about the pike being free of charge late night say 1:30 am to 5:30 am,that would save alot of money in pay & benifets.

 's picture

For Frank -

I agree with your insight regarding the intersection at the top of the ramp off Lisbon St. This was identified in the concept study the DOT and MTA did. Work to address this is part of the overall project DOT will be doing (in addition to the exit improvements MTA is funding). We here at PW and the City will keep after them to keep this moving forward.
Dave Jones
Director, Public Works

 's picture

Mc D

Hay maybe McDonald’s moved up the road. It was hell to get out years ago . You could eat your food before you got out of the parking lot .............. and it was not fast food ............



It's about time the MTA even notices that LA is here. It has always angered me that anybody who wants to visit us has to pay a toll from the North and from the South. It also galls me that Portland, South Portland and Augusta have all those exits which enhance their business districts while we have 1 for downtown, sort of, and 1 for the airport. I guess the only other thing they could have done to help our economic development would have been to build a moat around us. Thank God they didn't think of it! Now if they could only stop using the tolls that are being collected on our road to maintain that nice free road that the poor folk in Portland, Yarmouth, Falmouth , Freeport and Brunswick are stuck to use. Doesn't seem quite fair to me. Maybe Bob could be working on that next.

 's picture

If I could click that agree

If I could click that agree button another million times over, I would. I now am going to school and living in South Portland. I always find it funny when they say "I don't think we should have to pay to use I-95, but Lewiston drivers can use it for free to get to Auburn and vice versa" I try to explain to them that using the turnpike to go between Auburn and Lewiston is generally not plausible as most of us are traveling between the downtowns in which case we use the Longley Bridge, Bernard Loan Bridge and Veterans Memorial Bridge because both exits are on the outskirts of the cities. You are defiantly right about I-295 majority of the Greater Portland area use that for FREE and connect easily to most if not all community centers. I have been saying for quite some time that I think it is time for an East-West highway. Starting in Bath/Brunswick, going threw Lisbon, Lewiston/Auburn and going into the Western parts of Maine as well (maybe but and on/off ramp by the casino). Maybe dicuss it with N.H. and Vermont about potentially linking it up to the interstate system that links Albany to Buffalo, N.Y. Just some thoughts.

 's picture

The possibilities..

Great job Bob!

This could open the door for much bigger things than a park and ride. Amtrak route coming through Lisbon to a station at this location? Commuter Park and Ride for people traveling to work IN Lewiston? Shuttle bus, or even future light passenger rail service into the downtown?

This is very positive news.


Frank said exactly what I was

Frank said exactly what I was thinking when I first heard about this plan. Not only is is difficult to see at that intersection, but some cars are going so fast, they appear at the last second, creating the exact situation he describes that caused him to rear end somebody. I'm glad something is finally being done. I just hope it is done quickly and economically. I am impressed with Mr. Mills changing the "good ole boy" environment that has been in place for far too long, and he even listened to a local guy who is familiar with the situation. And then actually came to check it out himself. Building across the road would create more problems than solve. Refreshing.
I was once upset tolls were collected long after they were supposed to be phased out, but now realize how expensive it is to maintain the roads, and I like being able to drive on a safe, well maintained stretch of road. In good weather or when I have a few extra minutes, I take the back roads, avoiding the tolls and getting a sense of community as I drive through the small towns, so there is a choice for those who don't want to pay the tolls. But most of the time when traveling, I take the turnpike. I just wish residents from LA didn't have to pay more than everyone else. Guess it's just the price we have to pay to live in Shangri-LA :}
Food for thought: What about building a rest stop or some type of visitor center at the park and ride with a bathroom facility that might help promote area businesses and give people who usually fly past L/A a reason to come check us out.

Steve  Dosh's picture

. . l o l @ Shangri - L/A ,

. . l o l @ Shangri - L/A , Russ . Nice shots ? 
Bath has a - g r e a t - visitor's center under their rt. 1 bridge
You guys need at least a wind shelter for the bus stop or train station to be built they'ya
ßbBbRrrrr ...
h t h , /s, Steve

Jason Theriault's picture

It's amazing

It's amazing what you have money for when your not wasting it on gift cards

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Peter Mills . . .

. . . should have been the Republican nominee and our governor. Smart, experienced, pragmatic -- and likeable. Just not rabid enough to get the TEA party nod that put LeRage in the Governor's mansion with 39% of the vote. *shuddering*

And kudos to Bob Stone: He's spot on in his analysis.

Robert McQueeney's picture

I am glad that people with

I am glad that people with opposing viewpoints are willing to look at it from the other person's point of view here. Ultimately, this will be a well thought out project, and the public will benefit. Peter Mills taking Bob Stone's suggestion to heart and trying to do as suggested, shows an unusual ability to work together.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I agree 100%

Back in 2004 I bought a new car. I had just sold my old car with 300,000 plus miles on it ,not so much as a scratch.
I had to go to Augusta to get a duplicate title for my daughters car. I stopped at the Mcdonalds on Lisbon St. turned left onto lisbon st. then went up the ramp to the turnpike. This is seven days after getting my new car, I rear ended a pickup truck from out of state at the top of that ramp. He stopped at the stop sign then realized he couldn't see what was coming so he pulled up and stopped a second time. I wasn't expecting that. I was told by the responding Lewiston cop that this spot is one of the most accident prone spots in town because of the extremely poor visability. I say re do the entire interchange. and lower the hieght of the cement barriers so you can see over them from a car. Also I won't miss the Chalet that much.

GARY SAVARD's picture

I agree with Bob Stone, the

I agree with Bob Stone, the old McDonalds lot would have created traffic issues and a much higher potential for accidents than the motel parcel.


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