Portland-Gorham Highway Expansion Project Will Not Reduce Traffic Or Help Meet Our Climate Goals

(Portland, ME) March 8, 2024 The effort to build a four-lane highway between Portland and Gorham is a short-sighted attempt to address transportation challenges in the region and should not move forward. Transportation options for the residents along this corridor need to be improved, but building a highway will not solve traffic, improve safety, protect our natural resources, or help Maine reduce its climate emissions. 

We appreciate the concerns residents and commuters have about the increased traffic congestion between Gorham and Portland, concentrated on Routes 114, 22, and 25. The region needs solutions to manage regional growth that both relieve traffic congestion and provide sustainable, efficient, and reliable transportation.We cannot simply build our way out of traffic congestion, and we cannot continue to approach our transportation system by focusing on moving vehicles quickly. We need to build a transportation system focused on moving people safely and efficiently.

A recently completed Portland-Westbrook-Gorham rapid transit study recommends a rapid transit bus along existing roads. When combined with investments in active transportation, this is a viable path forward that must be considered. Before we commit to spending hundreds of millions of dollars (paid for by toll fees), we need to act on the rapid transit recommendation, invest in walking and biking facilities, explore carpool and other shared transportation options, and plan for a sustainable, safe, and efficient transportation future. 

The Maine Won’t Wait climate action plan set a goal of reducing vehicle miles (VMT) traveled by 10% by 2025 and 20% by 2030. Since that plan was released in 2020, VMT has increased by about 10%, putting us even farther from the goals. The Maine Turnpike Authority’s own studies confirm that the highway expansion project will increase vehicle miles traveled, an impact we cannot afford if we want to meet our climate goals.

Building new roads locks us into relying on a personal vehicle as the primary, and in many cases the only, mode of transportation that meets our daily needs. We deserve more choices. We deserve access to transportation that is safe, reliable, and sustainable. 

Addressing traffic congestion by shifting vehicles from existing roads to a new road is not a viable long-term transportation solution. Studies and experience have shown time and again that building new roads does not reduce traffic–in fact it results in ‘induced demand,’ which encourages more driving, resulting in more vehicle miles traveled and simply filling up the new roads.   

We are concerned that the Gorham Connector project as it is currently proposed: 

  • will encourage more driving and thus providing, at best, only a temporary solution to congestion;
  • conflicts with stated efforts to reduce vehicle miles traveled as one strategy to meet the state’s goals of reducing global warming emissions by 80% by 2050;
  • will contribute to sprawl and unmanaged development; 
  • will degrade the natural environment, including Red Brook–a unique trout habitat;
  • will harm Smiling Hill Farm, which has been in continuous use since 1720;
  • will increase pollution and harm public health.

The Maine Turnpike Authority, the MaineDOT, and our towns need to make a commitment to improving transportation choices that align with climate and public health goals. They should reject this proposal and instead make a commitment to similar levels of investment in transit, active transportation, broadband to support telecommuting, and other solutions to our transportation needs.


The Bicycle Coalition of Maine works to make Maine a better and safer place to bike and walk. Founded in 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has grown into the leading bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group in the state. The Coalition believes all Mainers should have access to bikes and bike education, and we envision a future where Maine’s roads, public ways, and trails are safe and accessible, resulting in cleaner travel options, improved health, and stronger economic benefits for Maine communities.

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Bicycle Coalition of Maine