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I-89 Bridges Meeting Set for Tonight in West Lebanon

Lebanon — State transportation officials are seeking public comment tonight on planned improvements to the Interstate 89 bridges that cross the Connecticut River and carry about 38,000 motorists a day between New Hampshire and Vermont.

Meanwhile, work on the Route 4 bridge crossing the Connecticut River between West Lebanon and White River Junction may cause some traffic delays starting early next week.

At a meeting scheduled for tonight at 7 at the Kilton Library in West Lebanon, New Hampshire Department of Transportation officials are scheduled to solicit input on rehabilitation projects for the north- and south-bound I-89 bridges over the Connecticut River.

The interstate spans are on the state’s red list of 147 similar structures slated for improvement.

The twin bridges were originally constructed in 1966. The decks and superstructures of each are in poor to fair condition and in need of replacement; they are ranked 36 and 37 on the state’s bridge priority list.

In addition to repairing the bridges, DOT plans to widen the roadways to address safety concerns, including lengthening the merger lane from the Interstate 91 ramp to exit 20 in West Lebanon, and to provide more room for future maintenance.

The existing bridges each carry two 12-foot travel lanes and include three-foot shoulders on both sides. The proposed design would increase the interior shoulder to 4.5 feet, add one 12-foot auxiliary lane to each direction of travel and widen the two outer shoulders to 12 feet each.

All four existing travel lanes are slated to remain open during construction, said L. Robert Landry Jr. of the DOT’s Bridge Design Bureau. Closing down lanes wouldn’t work with the quantity of traffic that travels over the two bridges, he said.

The three-phase project is scheduled to begin with the construction of two lanes between the existing bridges. Once that work is complete, repairs would move forward first on one bridge and then the other.

To widen both bridges, plans require the installation of another set of pier supports between those already in place, Landry said. Doing so will require entering the Connecticut River and, at times, closing the water to recreational traffic, he said.

The estimated price tag for the Connecticut River I-89 bridge repairs is $38 million, to be funded primarily in 2018 and 2019, according to the state’s 10-year transportation plan. Vermont’s share of the cost is approximately $12 million. Landry estimated the project would take two to three years of construction, depending on the time of year construction begins.

Landry said he was particularly hopeful officials would receive feedback from those who use the river for recreation, as well as those involved in emergency response who use the bridges to respond to calls for mutual aid.

He anticipated hosting a second public meeting next spring in Hartford to provide community members with another opportunity to comment on proposed designs.

In another Lebanon bridge project, DOT officials have scheduled a public informational meeting for next Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Kilton Library. They will discuss the rehabilitation of the I-89 bridges over Hardy Hill Road in Lebanon, between exits 17 and 18. DOT said plans will be on display beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Landry said plans for the bridges over Hardy Hill Road, ranked 27 and 28 on the state’s bridge priorities, are still in the early stages of development, but is slated to include repairs to the girders and decks.

“In our world, (it’s) pretty simple rehab work,” Landry said.

He said DOT plans to keep Hardy Hill Road open during construction, which is slated for 2018 and expected to cost approximately $5 million.

Landry said he hoped neighbors would provide suggestions for appropriate work hours and emergency service personnel would alert DOT to their needs.

“We want to hear those things,” he said.

As plans are underway for the I-89 bridges, roadwork connected with the project to build a new Route 4 bridge over the Connecticut River between West Lebanon and Hartford is also about to start.

Beginning on Monday, July 28, through Friday, Aug. 8, work to reconstruct Route 4 from the old bridge to the intersection with Route 10 will occur at night. Between Aug. 8 through mid-October, construction will take place during the day. As work is ongoing, traffic will be alternating one way at night, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Delays are expected, and motorists are encouraged to seek alternate routes, according to a DOT release.

The $10.7 million project, for which CPM Constructors of Freeport, Maine, is the general contractor, is scheduled for completion in June 2016.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at ndoyleburr@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.