This evening Maine Medical Center received unanimous approval for its first site plan application from Portland’s Planning Board for the hospital’s $512 million expansion and modernization. Consequently, construction is expected to begin in early May – requiring the closure of a portion of Congress Street on the west end of Portland for eight weeks.
The approval authorizes MMC to begin constructing two patient care floors with 64 new oncology patient rooms on top of the hospital’s East Tower, relocating its helipad to the East Tower – allowing for improved access to the trauma center in the emergency department – and adding three levels in its visitor parking garage for an additional 225 parking spaces. Construction on the East Tower and visitor garage will begin in early May.
That construction will require the closure of a portion of Congress Street for eight (8) weeks between Forest and Weymouth Streets to accommodate construction on the patient and visitor garage. Wescott Street, which runs along the East Tower will close for 12 months for East Tower construction as well. Alexander Green, director of Planning for MMC, described in detail the thinking behind this closure and why the alternatives considered were not chosen. Mr. Green also said that the intents of the detour are to reduce the volume of traffic before the construction and to monitor the impact on the neighborhood. Five electrical signs will mark the detour. Local businesses on lower Congress Street and in the area will be open and fully accessible during the road closure. The planning board approved a condition that would permit a penalty of $10,000. per day should the closure extend beyond the end of June.
The street closure would extend beyond the Sea Dogs Stadium at Hadlock Field. The two entities have been working closely together to reduce congestion in the area because opening day for the baseball team is in May and the annual Mother’s Day road race.
“With more private rooms, additional modern surgical suites and more convenient access to the hospital, we can continue serving the growing acute care needs of Maine’s population and deliver better outcomes and an improved patient experience,” said MMC’s Chief Medical Officer, Joel Botier, M.D. “Maine Medical Center serves the sickest patients in our region. We play a critical role in Maine’s continuum of care and we need to modernize our care facilities to continue serving that need.”
MMC Expects to submit site plan applications for the project’s two remaining phases later this year. Phase 2 encompasses the new employee parking garage and Phase 3 centers on the new Congress Street building, containing 64 patient rooms and 19 procedure rooms.
The visitor garage expansion is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 while the East Tower is scheduled to be completed by late 2019.