Route 4 bridge projects to delay traffic into the fall

  • Traffic is limited to one lane as construction crews repair a bridge over the Mascoma River on U.S. Route 4 in Canaan, N.H., on Thursday, May 12, 2022. The project, which will also include repairing bridges over Crystal Lake Brook and Indian River, is expected to be completed in late fall 2022. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/15/2022 9:55:00 PM
Modified: 5/15/2022 9:53:13 PM

CANAAN — Three bridges are being rehabilitated on Route 4 in Canaan this summer

Work has already begun on the bridges over the course of roughly 4½ miles on Route 4. While the projects went out to bid before the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, that infusion of federal funding into New Hampshire has helped keep them on schedule said Bill Cass, assistant commissioner for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

The first bridge is near the Enfield/Canaan town line spans the Mascoma River, the second spans Crystal Lake Brook near Mascoma Valley Regional High School and the third spans the Indian River near Dollar General. During construction, the state boat launch near the bridge over the Mascoma River will be closed. The three bridges are being treated as one project and cost $1.6 million. Beck & Belluci Inc., based in Franklin, N.H., is the lead contractor.

Each bridge will be affixed with traffic lights at each end of the construction zone, allowing for alternating one-way traffic. Motorists traveling Route 4 the second week of May have already been stopped at the site of the bridge on the Enfield/Canaan town line.

“These being in such close proximity, it was a good project in terms of efficiency to bundle a few of these bridges together in one project and impact traffic once instead of three times,” Cass said. “It will be a busy summer getting those three bridges done. We’ll do one side and shift to the other side but they should be done and wrapped up by the end of the construction season.”

All of Canaan’s emergency vehicles have been equipped with devices that will allow them to override the temporary traffic lights, Canaan town administrator Mike Samson said. He does not expect the construction to impact response times, although it may lead to some headaches’ from motorists.

“Anytime you put a couple of one way zones in two different spots it’s going to impact traffic,” Samson said.

Approximately 7,800 vehicles crossed the bridges over the Mascoma River and Crystal Lake Brook in 2020, with 6,000 crossing the bridge at the Indian River, according to information compiled by the DOT. By 2040, it’s projected that 9,500 vehicles will cross the bridges over the Mascoma River and Crystal Lake Brook and 7,400 will cross the bridge at the Indian River.

“There are definitely more people traveling through New Hampshire and safe roads and bridges are our goal so we’re trying to maintain the system,” Cass said. “It’s an important road for the region for sure.”

The three bridges fit into the state’s 10-year bridge update project, the state’s plan for keeping bridges in good condition.

“With that new funding, we’re essentially able to update that program from what it was before and we’re able to advance a lot of the bridges in that program,” Cass said.

While it is possible to take Blackwater Road around the first two bridges, there is not a good detour for the one near Dollar General, Samson said.

Next year, two bridges on Grist Mill Hill and Potato roads which both span a portion of the Indian River, will be replaced using funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Samson said. The two roads connect to Route 4.

The bridge on Potato Road has steel beams that have too much rust to be repaired and a wooden deck that “was becoming more difficult,” Samson said. The bridge on Grist Mill Hill has steel beams and a concrete deck. Together, the projects cost around $2 million.

The town has been setting aside money to meet the 20% match typically required of towns for bridge projects.

“One way or another we were going to replace the Potato Road bridge within the next 12 months,” Samson said. “With the news awards of money, we’re accelerating the start of construction on Potato Road. We’re accelerating Grist Mill Hill Road.”

Without the federal funding, the Grist Mill Hill bridge likely would have taken another three years, Samson said. Additionally, the infusion of federal funding helps free up more money for other flood mitigation efforts, including adding a large culvert and raising a portion of Potato Road, which typically floods after heavy rain storms. There are plans to enlarge trestles under portions of the Rail Trail and replace the bridge that leads to the town’s transfer station near the race track.

“It’s pretty vital,” Samson said of the federal funding. “We’re not a very rich community. Our tax base is limited so it’s a way for us to complete projects that otherwise would be delayed for years.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at or 603-727-3221.

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