RoadsAroundME is retired.

No updates will be made. The site will be accessible indefinitely, but information will not be updated, and current road routing information will inevitably be inaccurate.
You use the site at your own risk.

[RoadsAroundME main page] Maine State Route 3
[East ME 3 near Augusta.]
<< US Highway 2A (Maine) All Points in Maine Maine State Route 4 >>

Termini and Mileage (2006)

Main alignment: Int of RAMP OFF TO ROUTE 3, RA, Augusta to Int of ST RTE 102, ST RTE 3, Mt Desert
Main alignment: 119.21 miles (total over all segments)

Regional and National Route Information

History as Pole Highway (1919-1925)
Includes portions of the Yellow - White Mount Desert Trail (but not all, see ME 183), and the entirety of the Orange - White Kennebec-Penobscot Trail except for the northern bypass in Augusta (the original alignment is now carried by ME 9/US 202).

Notes and History

A south-coastal route designated after the Maine Great Renumbering, ME 3 has several co-signed alignments with other highways (most notably COASTAL US 1, ME 9 and briefly with ME 15). It is also the major service route in Bar Harbor, where it passes through the middle of town and circles around Mt Desert Island using an odd loop arrangement partially co-signed with ME 198. On this loop stretch, there are no directional banners; instead of "EAST" and "WEST," the banners simply read "ROUTE." Together with ME 102 and ME 198, these three routes service the majority of Maine's famous Acadia National Park on the island. (ME 102 also has a loop configuration; see that entry.)

As originally designated, ME 3 was a much longer route with its western terminus all the way in Portland (its terminus being unclear; see US 302 for a discussion). This routing was a combination of co-signage, overlaid on ME 26 to Gray, then ME 4 to Auburn-Lewiston, and then along with new route ME 11 over the old routing of ME 100 to Augusta. In Augusta, it followed ME 11 on Western Avenue and up State St also with US 201, ME 17 and ME 27 (now ME 8/ME 11/ME 27) to Bridge St, where it crossed the Kennebec River with then-ME 17 and then-US 201 over the Father Curran Bridge (see US 201). Upon the other shore, it turned north along Bangor St to Belfast Avenue and left the city with ME 9 (now ME 9/US 202); from Augusta east, the majority of its routing consumed almost all of former ME 102 at its greatest extent to Mount Desert Island -- incorporating former lettered highway R and the Kennebec-Penobscot and Mount Desert Trails -- including the cosigned section with US 1 near Belfast, leaving only a small hook of ME 102 on the western side of the island. The route was truncated to Augusta 1946-7 with its new terminus at US 201, at the corner of Bangor St and N Belfast Ave (entering on N Belfast Ave with US 202 and ME 9). Surprisingly, this endpoint persisted even decades after the construction of I-95, its present-day terminus; the present bypass north of town across ME 104 wasn't constructed until 2004-5! This conversion altered ME 9/US 202's routing in this area; see US 202.

The original bridge to Mount Desert Island that carried ME 183, then ME 102 and finally ME 3 was a steel swing span bridge too narrow for higher traffic volumes. In 1958, the bridge was demolished along with all of its piers and a new 4,150' project was designed with a central 230', three-span bridge. Particular attention was paid to restoring the terrain to its previous natural state; the abutments and piers of the old bridge were crushed and used for the approach fills. The new bridge, with a 25' clearance, cost roughly $480,000.

ME 3 is a significant corridor east of Augusta and has had multiple small realignments. Amongst these, ME 3 was changed to bypass Liberty-Montville in 1958 with the former routing being added partially as an extension to ME 173 (also partially with ME 220) and the rest no longer numbered highway as Trues Point Rd. The old alignment can be seen on the 1942 topo (warning: large image). Additionally, ME 3 and US 1 adopt a partially controlled-access bypass alignment around Belfast; see US 1. For the history of realignments related to the US 202 co-signed portion, see US 202.

The current ME 3 bypass bridge is the last and most recent of the Kennebec River crossings in Augusta (for the other two, including the Father Curran Bridge along which ME 3 was once routed, see US 201). Constructed in 2005, the Cushnoc Crossing is a five-span structure with a length of 1,115' and a minimum vertical clearance of 75'. It is named for the settlement of Cushnoc (local Indian term for 'head of tide'), the original British trading post from which the modern city hails.

In 2008, the easternmost US 1-ME 3 junction in Ellsworth was reconfigured due to increasing commercial traffic. ME 3 traffic heading towards Ellsworth must now turn off onto Myrick Street and then left onto US 1 to enter town in order to facilitate two lanes going up the hill on ME 3 towards Bar Harbour Island. US 1 itself was not realigned.

Archival Photographs

[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Advance signage for US 1 and ME 3/Bar Harbor Rd separation east of Ellsworth, in the 1940s, using an unusual diagrammatic depiction. (Private photographer in author's collection.)
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Junction of US 1 and ME 3/Bar Harbor Rd east of Ellsworth, in the 1940s. Note the cutout shield and older distance signage convention. (Private photographer in author's collection.)
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] ME 3 towards Bar Harbor at the Mount Desert Narrows, facing south, after the 1958 reconstruction eliminated the old swing bridge (Highway News 10/58). Large fills were used for the approaches to the new 230', 25' vertical clearance narrows crossing; the old bridge and its abutments were completely demolished during construction and used as part of the approach fill.
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Early morning winter scene of the 1931 Waldo-Hancock Bridge crossing the Penobscot Narrows, carrying US 1 (formerly US 1A) and ME 3 (Highway News 2/59). ME 174 was also routed here until approximately 1960.
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Piers and towers of the Waldo-Hancock, and the underside of the main span (Highway News 10/59).
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Redecking and flaring of west approach to the Waldo-Hancock (Highway News 9/62).
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Upgrades to the US 1 bypass of Belfast at the junction of Main St/ME 3 to the current controlled-access alignment (Transportation News 7/73). The centre pylon shows the course of US 1 in the present day, and the roadways visible are now the on/off ramps. ME 3 is the intersection in the distance.
Additional Photographs

[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] ME 3 in Bar Harbor, which is the street proceeding to the right ahead, part of the Mount Desert "loop."
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] US 1, ME 3 and ME 15 cosigned near Bucksport. This is part of the "coastal" US 1 designation, and US 1 carries a "Coastal" banner in this stretch.
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Terminus of ME 230 in Ellsworth at US 1/ME 3. Note the very old wooden signage used here for US 1 and ME 3. This is the former northern terminus of ME 102.
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Old-style signage in Ellsworth at the terminus of US 1A along US 1/ME 3.
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] "TO ME 3" signage in Acadia National Park.
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Maine Scenic Byway designation for ME 3 on Mount Desert Island, one of the few shield assemblies on the loop with a directional banner (most just say "ROUTE").
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] Junction ME 3 and ME 104 near Augusta. This also shows the green signage specially created for the Maine Turnpike/I-95. This section is part of the new ME 3 2004 bypass.
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] EB ME 3 near Augusta on the ME 3 bypass.
[Thumbnail image. Select for 640x480.] End ME 3 at I-95 in Augusta on the ME 3 bypass.

Additional Resources

<< US Highway 2A (Maine) All Points in Maine Maine State Route 4 >>
Routing information is property of the Maine Department of Transportation, based on most current data available at time of this writing. No warranty or guarantee is expressed or implied regarding this routing's suitability for travel or resemblance to fact. RoadsAroundME is not affiliated with, sponsored by or funded by the taxpayers of the state of Maine, or the Maine Department of Transportation.

All images, photographs and multimedia, unless otherwise stated, are copyright © 2005-2010 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. All writeups are copyright © 2005-2010 Cameron Kaiser. All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying or duplication without express consent of the copyright holder is strictly prohibited. Please contact the sitemaster to request permission if you wish to use items from this page.

[Main page]
Return to RoadsAroundME
RoadsAroundME is a part of Floodgap Roadgap.