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Officials expect traffic issues on Rt 28 as 2-year pipe project starts

Union Leader Correspondent

June 17. 2018 9:34PM

SALEM — Construction is due to begin Tuesday on a $11.6 million project to replace 1.5 miles of water and sewer lines underneath Route 28.

The downtown section of Salem stretching from the roadway just south of Cluff Crossing to up past Main Street will see road crews working in the center medians and intersections for at least the next two years, according to Roy Sorenson, the director of municipal services for Salem.

“We’re starting right by Target,” Sorenson said.

The first week of the project will focus on “de-watering” the soil around the pipelines. Crews will dig holes and insert machines that will drain the moisture, making it ready for the real digging to begin.

Some of those devices will be underground with steel plates covering the holes so motorists can drive over. After that, the middle of the roadway will be closed to traffic. Sorenson said they hope to maintain two lanes south of Cluff Crossing up to the highway intersection and the 99 Restaurant.

At that intersection, there will be police details directing traffic during construction.

Most of the work will cover the middle and northbound sections. As a result, north and southbound traffic won’t be able to go concurrently.

“Obviously, traffic will be affected,” Sorenson said.

One of the reasons the project is expected to take so long is the crews won’t be able to replace the water main, which dates from 1890, at the same time as the sewer line. They’ll start with replacing sewer and then go back and replace the water line after that.

The sewer lines will be 18 feet deep and 24 to 30 inches in diameter. The water main will be 12 inches in diameter.

Sorenson said the waterline is so old it suffered 25 major failures in just the past 10 years.

The upgrades will not only improve reliability but provide greater capacity to relieve some of the already strained lines. The construction of Tuscan Village on the old Rockingham racetrack property would only add to that strain without these upgrades.

The project is financed by a $11.6 million bond the town approved in a warrant article in March. The vote was 1,429 to 620.

The sewer component will carry the bulk of the cost at $8.21 million. The water line will cost $1.74 and the construction of a new box culvert underneath South Broadway. The culvert will take water from a pond behind the post office to create a new winding brook in part of the Tuscan Village development.

Sorenson said he will present the details of the project before town selectmen tonight. And after the project is underway, he will update the municipal services website daily.

General News Pelham Salem Windham

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