ARUNDEL (AP) – Gov. John Baldacci on Wednesday marked the symbolic completion of the five-year, $135 million Maine Turnpike widening by helping to paint the “final stripe” along a portion of the highway in Arundel.

Workers finished the last 15 to 20 feet by hand, and Baldacci came in to roll a small section in a breakdown lane.

“It’s the largest public works project in the state’s history. It was a five-year period. No acccidents,” Baldacci said afterward. “The workers did a great job, and everyone worked well.”

He noted that the project was completed on time, and came in under budget by $2 million. “I like that,” he said.

With the work completed, all six lanes are open for the entire stretch from the New Hampshire border to Scarborough.

Last spring, workers began clearing trees and blasting ledge in the 5.8 mile stretch between exit 25 in Kennebunk and exit 32 in Biddeford.

Some minor landscaping and painting may continue into November, but all paving and major construction are complete.

Voters first rejected the widening in a 1991 state referendum, opting instead to explore other ways to reduce and manage traffic.

With growing congestion, they reconsidered six years later and gave the green light to the plan to widen the 30 miles of the toll road between mile marker 12 in York and mile 42 in Scarborough from four lanes to six lanes.

The ceremony that Baldacci participated in took place in the southbound lanes in the breakdown lane next to the median.

Baldacci was joined by two workers in finishing a line where construction trucks entered the turnpike over the summer.

“It was straight,” Baldacci said, critiquing his work with the paint roller. “It was right down the middle.”

The stripe was white, not yellow.

“There’s no yellow in this administation. Everything is black and white,” Baldacci joked.



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