Interstate 495 overlays the Falmouth Spur, the Maine Turnpike connector between the mainline (I-95) and I-295. The toll road formerly carried I-95 away from the Maine Turnpike to its free route north to Brunswick and Gardiner. There are no exits between the two Interstates, but the east end of the Falmouth Spur does provide access to U.S. 1 in the town of Falmouth.
The Falmouth Spur opened as part of the Maine Turnpike in 1955. It was incorporated as part of the Interstate 95 alignment around Portland in 1956.3 The Maine Turnpike main line north from the west end of the spur to Auburn, Lewiston and West Gardiner was unnumbered.
With Congress passing a law in 1987 that raised the national speed limit from 55 to 65 miles per hour, the state of Maine sought to include all of the Maine Turnpike into the Interstate system. Since the increased speed limit was permitted only on rural Interstate highways, the turnpike outside of I-95 was not applicable.
The addition of the Turnpike to the Interstate System as I-495 was approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) subject to concurrence of the American Association State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on August 11, 1987. An application was forwarded to AASHTO on September 1 and approved on December 4, 1987. It established Interstate 495 along 50.47 miles of the Maine Turnpike from Portland to West Gardiner.
Changes for the Maine Interstate system were submitted by Maine to AASHTO, and approved on October 11, 2002. They outlined relocating Interstate 95 westward from both the Falmouth Spur and the freeway north from to Brunswick and West Gardiner wholly onto the Maine Turnpike, over what was previously Interstate 495. Interstate 295 was extended northward over former I-95 from Yarmouth to Gardiner. Legislature signed by the Governor on March 27, 2002 outlined these changes and also the redesignation of the Falmouth Spur of the Maine Turnpike as an unnumbered ramp.
Subsequent correspondence between the Maine Department of Transportation, the FHWA and AASHTO on October 3, 2002 redesignated the Falmouth Spur as Interstate 495. The previous application submitted to AASHTO regarding the renumbering of I-95 and I-295 was amended as follows:
Re-designate the current portion of Interstate Route 95 between West Falmouth and Falmouth (the Falmouth Spur) as Interstate 495. (This will connect the proposed new routing of Interstate Route 95 at West Falmouth with the proposed new routing of Interstate Route 295 at Falmouth).
Interstate 495 was not signed because Maine considered the Falmouth Spur to be just a “ramp”. Sign changes were implemented on January 5, 2004 and completed on January 10th.1
The relocation of Interstate 495 also coincided with a statewide renumbering of all Maine Interstate exits from a sequential based system to a mileage based system. Completed by May 15, 2004, Maine was the first New England state to adopt the national standard.2