LEWISTON – Economic development gurus for Lewiston and Auburn plan to update leaders of the Maine Turnpike Authority today on several planned projects, including business parks in both cities and the Exit 80 retail development.

It will likely become a pitch for long-discussed exits onto River Road in Lewiston and Riverside Drive in Auburn.

“We need another turnpike interchange into the downtown,” said Lincoln Jeffers, Lewiston’s assistant to the administrator. He’ll be conducting the briefing with Roland Miller, Auburn’s economic development director.

The briefing is scheduled as part of a 3 p.m. workshop with the seven-member turnpike authority at Chase Hall on the Bates College campus. The authority has scheduled its regular monthly meeting there at 6 p.m.

Plans for a new turnpike exit have been developing for years. One of several plans would include new exits on both sides of the river, including a so-called “half-diamond” interchange for traffic with the southern portion of the turnpike on the Lewiston side and a regular “full diamond” exit in Auburn.

Either way, both cities are hoping for help from the interstate. One likely customer will be a redeveloped Bates Mill No. 5, Jeffers said.

A group is currently analyzing several possible uses for the massive city-owned building that overlooks Main and Lincoln streets in Lewiston.

Whether it becomes a convention center, as has been much talked about, or it is put to another use, it will likely draw hundreds or even thousands more people into the city on a regular basis, Jeffers said.

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