Marie Turgeon, the supervisor at the York tollbooths on the Maine Turnpike, said Tuesday that “traffic is really slow.”

“This is the slowest I’ve ever seen it,” she said.

On Sunday, for instance, traffic was only a third of what it was on the last Sunday of March in 2019.

Looking north at the Kennebunk exit on Tuesday afternoon. Maine Turnpike Authority webcam

Officials said it appears that traffic volume on Monday and Tuesday this week was perhaps the lowest in decades along the normally busy highways that link Maine to the rest of New England. It’s a sign, they said, of the impact that COVID-19 has had on travel and business.

Peter Mills, head of the Turnpike Authority, said it’s just a trickle compared to the same period a year ago.

He said he’s never seen the road so empty.

Overall traffic volumes, he said, are down sharply over last year, though toll revenue is only down 45% because trucks make up a larger chunk of what’s left on the road.

Turnpike records show that traffic this March is down 60% from a year ago.

The exit for the Portland Jetport had the sharpest decline, by 73%, no doubt connected to a shrinking number of flights. The exit with the least dropoff was New Gloucester, down 52% from a year earlier.

Mills said commuter traffic around Portland fell off more than longer range sections recorded in York, New Gloucester and Gardiner.

He said the Walmart facility in Lewiston must be booming, given all the trucks coming and going from it.

But there are also lots of delivery trucks, he said, adding that “people are home and they’re bored and they’re on Amazon.”

Turgeon said she and everybody collecting tolls always pay attention to license plates, seeing where people come as they stop and pay.

Two weeks ago, she said, there was a surge of Canadians heading north, many of them pulling trailers or boats, probably snowbirds heading home after wintering in the South.

“Now they’re gone,” Turgeon said.

There were quite a few cars from New York and Massachusetts in the mix, too, she said, but in recent days she hasn’t seen many from the Empire State.

Massachusetts cars are still coming through, she said, but they always do.

They could, Turgeon said, “very well be coming up earlier for summer break” this year since schools shut down so early.

All told, she said, it’s been awfully quiet on the highway.

“This is slower than a snowstorm,” Turgeon said.

Hoping to give a boost to the economy, Mills said the turnpike is pressing ahead with 18 construction projects and just awarded a $28.2 million contract to Shaw Brothers Construction Inc. of Gorham to begin widening the road on the west side of Portland.

“It’s all safe outdoor work to keep the economy alive in these trying times,” he said, and paid for with money that’s already been set aside.


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