Upper Valley Road Projects Are on Track

Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, January 19, 2018

Lebanon — Upper Valley planners say they’re pleased with Gov. Chris Sununu’s recommended 10-year transportation plan, which proposes few changes for the region.

The plan, which was sent to the Legislature on Tuesday, calls for increased funds for area bridge repairs, as well as a new traffic mitigation project in Claremont.

If the plan is passed, area communities can expect to see few surprises between 2019 and 2028.

“As far as the projects we proposed, everything seems to be there,” said Meghan Butts, a planner at the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission. “There were no major changes to any projects in our region.”

Claremont fared well in the recommended plan, said Nancy Merrill, the city’s planning and development director.

She said the city was pleased to receive $667,000 to sync the traffic lights on a 2-mile of stretch of Route 103, locally known as Washington Street.

The project, which will begin in 2020, should help alleviate congestion on the street, which is traveled by about 20,000 vehicles per day, Merrill said.

The transportation plan also would set aside $4 million to rehabilitate the bridge connecting the city to Weathersfield on routes 12 and 103. That project is expected to take place in 2026 and 2027.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” Merrill said of the governor’s recommendations.

In Lebanon, the state is looking to once again delay about $3 million in funds for the Mechanic Street improvement project, which would be scheduled to begin in 2019.

The project first appeared on state improvement lists in 1987 and has either been delayed or put on hold several times since.

Lebanon is planning to rebuild the road, widen it, and add bike lanes and sidewalks as part of a larger $12.4 million project that also might include new roundabouts and improved lighting.

But Public Works Director Mike Lavalla wasn’t dismayed by the postponement, saying it allows officials more time for design work.

Projects in the current plan including repairs to the Interstate 89 bridge connecting Lebanon to Hartford, as well as bridge replacements on Trues Brook Road and Mascoma Street, also are scheduled to be completed on time between 2019 and 2023.

New Hampshire updates its 10-year transportation plan on a two-year basis, beginning with the state’s regional planning commissions and area priorities as identified by municipalities.

State efforts to draft a new plan began in July, when members of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation began meeting to screen potential projects.

The group held 23 public meetings in September and October, including events in Lebanon and Claremont, and accepted written comments into November.

Several road reconstruction projects are included in the plan, including one to improve Route 12A in Charlestown and Walpole, N.H. Construction will cost $8.1 million and is scheduled for 2026 and 2027.

Enfield is expected to see a $367,000 bridge project on Shaker Boulevard over the Knox River in 2026, and about $5.8 million in bridge replacements are planned for Route 25A and Archertown Road in Orford.

The governor’s recommendation also scraps two previously approved projects in Canaan to replace bridges crossing the Mascoma River and Clark Pond Brook.

Town Administrator Mike Samson said that since the roads leading to those bridges no longer are maintained by the town, the town requested a change to the transportation plan.

Instead, the recommended plan sets aside $635,000 for repairs in 2019 to the bridge carrying Potato Road over the Indian River. There’s also $567,000 slotted for repairs in 2023 to the bridge on Gristmill Hill Road over the Indian River.

In a Tuesday news release, Sununu said the recommended plan addresses the Granite State’s transportation needs while also “living within our means.”

The recommendation calls for a total of $3.7 billion in spending over 10 years, with the majority of those funds coming from the Federal Highway Administration.

The plan earmarks about $775 million for pavement projects, $763 million for bridges and $256 million for airport projects. The Interstate 93 expansion project in southern New Hampshire also is expected to consume $80.5 million.

“In all, the final product is a financially contained document that identifies and addresses the needs that best align with the priorities of communities, the regional planning commissions, NH DOT and (the advisory group),” Sununu said in the release.

The plan now heads to the New Hampshire House and Senate for approval.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com.