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Bedford told a widened Route 101 delayed

BEDFORD — Local residents waiting for traffic relief along a busy stretch of Route 101 will have to wait another year.

Town Manager Jessie Levine met with managers from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation on Wednesday and was told that the Route 101 widening project will likely go out to bid in the fall of 2016, with construction starting in the fall of 2017.

This past March, Bedford residents were told by DOT representatives that construction was expected to begin in 2016, and the $6.5 million project would be complete by the end of 2017.

“That is a safety issue,” said state Rep. John Graham, noting the roadway gets lots of traffic.

The preliminary project includes widening Route 101 from Wallace Road to the intersection with Route 114, essentially adding an extra travel lane in both directions to make a portion of the road a four-lane highway.

During a joint meeting Thursday night among the Bedford Town Council, Bedford School Board and local delegation, the need for the widening project was discussed for nearly an hour.

Graham acknowledged that it will be an aggressive plan to have all of the permitting ready for construction in 2017.

One of the biggest challenges, said town councilor Bill Jean, is the 56 properties along the corridor that will be affected, in addition to a large tree overhanging the road near the Bedford Village Inn.

Despite properties that may need negotiating, Jean said that a small portion of property is necessary for the work. There are several businesses that will be negatively affected, prompting town officials to reach out to the businessess before they are contacted by DOT representatives.

There are also some concerns about wetlands, along with potential drainage treatment issues, said town officials.

“I think the town has been staying on top of what has been happening,” said Graham, explaining there will be future opportunities to discuss with the Executive Council about moving the project ahead. An informational forum is planned for early 2014, with a public hearing in the spring of 2014, Levine said.

The majority of funding for the $6.5 million road widening project, or 90 percent, will come from the federal government. The remaining 10 percent will be paid for by the state.

Local and state officials briefly discussed other endeavors on Thursday, including the state’s biennial budget, potential surcharges on hybrid and electric vehicles, possible upgrades to the city’s wastewater operations and transfer station, school funding and more.

Also announced on Thursday, state Rep. Kelleigh Domaingue Murphy said she and her husband, Keith Murphy, will not be seeking reelection in the N.H. House of Representatives. Domaingue said she intends to focus on her position as town councilor.

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