DOT to hear comments on NH 10-year transportation plan in Claremont

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 09-29-2023 3:17 PM

CLAREMONT — The New Hampshire Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on a draft of its 10-year transportation plan at the Claremont Community Center on Monday beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The draft plan for 2025-2034 lists a number of projects for the area including 11 in Lebanon, three in Claremont, and two each in Newport and Enfield. It also includes three “red listed” bridges in Newport, Grantham and Charlestown.

Bill Watson, administrator of the Bureau of Planning and Community Assistance with the NHDOT, said the hearing begins with an explanation of the federal transportation funds the state receives and where they are being spent on roadways, bridges, transit or rail.

“We talk a little about transportation funding, what we are proposing and why we are proposing certain new projects to the 10-year plan,” Watson said.

The Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission will be asked to discuss the new projects it recommended for the region and that will be followed by public comment.

The plan, available on the NHDOT website, divides the state up by its five Executive Council districts. The Upper Valley is in District 2, represented by Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington.

“The real goal of the meeting is for the department and for Councilor Warmington to hear what we are doing well, what we are not doing well and additional areas of need that might be out there that the public does not feel are being addressed,” Watson said. “The end goal is for Councilor Warmington and the other four councilors, the deciding members of the (Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation) that has been set up, to direct us on what projects to add or modify in the draft 10-year plan.”

According to the plan, the DOT has identified 222 “red listed” locally owned bridges in the state with 43 already scheduled for rehabilitation or replacement. There are another 65 bridges in the draft 10-year plan that are scheduled for construction between 2027 and 2032, using $90 million in federal money.

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Red list means there is at least one part of the bridge, including the deck, superstructure, substructure or culvert, that has been rated as poor.

For example, the Greenwood Road bridge in Newport is ranked 31st of the 65. The Olde Farms Road bridge in Grantham is 36 and the Bridge Street bridge over the railroad is 54.

Once the 10-year plan has been adopted, Watson said, the DOT cannot be certain of being able to complete every project because final costs are not known.

“Right now it is very difficult for us to bring projects in under budget,” Watson said. “We are seeing construction costs the last few years increase 25, 30, even 40% in many cases. That additional funding (need) delays another project.”

Watson said while final costs can affect how many projects are done, the 10-year plan is still a good working document for the state.

“It is a very good road map of what we are going to get done and in what order,” he said.

Among the projects on the plan for Lebanon are safety and capacity improvements on Route 120 from Exit 18 to Etna Road and reconstruction of the Mechanic Street/High Street/Mascoma Street intersection.

One project in Claremont is for 1,400 feet of sidewalk on Broad Street and a pedestrian path of 1,950 feet from Monadnock Park to the rail trail.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.