I-93 widening between Windham and Manchester gets Executive Council boost
By DAVE SOLOMON
New Hampshire Union Leader
CONCORD - The state took another step in the widening of Interstate 93 with a unanimous vote by the Executive Council Wednesday to approve a $9.3 million design contract for the northern section, from Windham to Manchester.
The vote at the regularly scheduled Governor and Executive Council meeting at the State House authorized the Bureau of Highway Design to sign a contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff, an international engineering and construction management firm with offices in New York and Manchester.
The company will complete final design of the roadway and bridges to set the stage for construction. DOT Commissioner Christopher Clement told councilors that if all goes according to plan, the road should be widened in the next five years.
"If the Legislature approves the funding and the engineering goes OK, we are hoping to finish by a Feb. 28, 2018, target date," he said.
District 4 Councilor Chris Pappas, whose district includes Manchester, noted that the request for proposals contained a contingency plan for a three- or four-lane expansion, which Clement said would be determined in large part by environmental reviews.
Preliminary engineering studies call for the project to add an additional two travel lanes in each direction over the entire 20-mile segment and improve the five interchanges south of Interstate 293 to the state line. Twenty bridges will be replaced and 23 will be rehabilitated or widened.Exit 4A
The proposal discussed on Wednesday also called for an Exit 4A, between existing exits 4 and 5. Plans for 4A include a new, mile-long roadway to connect a diamond-shaped interchange to the highway, with improvements to North High Street, Folsom Road in Londonderry and Tsienetto Road in Derry. Improvements to Route 102 into Londonderry are also included in the plans.
When the Executive Council met at the DOT offices earlier this month, Commissioner Clement said the project needs to get on schedule since its environmental permits only last until 2020.
"We need to finish I-93 and we need to finish it now, because the costs are only going to get higher," he said at the Feb. 6 breakfast meeting, alluding to current bond rates with interest rates as low as 1.26 percent.
The New Hampshire section of I-93 was built in the early 1960s to accommodate 60,000 to 70,000 vehicles per day, according to the DOT, which estimates traffic will increase to 140,000 vehicles per day in Salem by the year 2020.In other action
The Executive Council also:
. Approved the appointment of Glenn Perlow to head the New Hampshire Banking Department, where he currently serves as deputy commissioner. Perlow succeeds Ronald Wilbur, who did not seek reappointment.
Authorized a $295,200 expenditure from the state's Homeland Security funds for improved security measures for the state's computer networks.
. Authorized an agreement to list the former state corrections facility in Laconia with Jones Lang LaSalle Real Estate of New York, in exchange for 6 percent of the gross proceeds from any sale, through May. 1.
. Voted 5-1 to approve a $4,900 trip to Italy by employees of the state Liquor Commission, paid for by the Italian Trade Commission, to attend the Vinitaly Wine Exhibition in Verona from April 6-13. District 2 Councilor Colin Van Ostern voted against the measure, saying he thought it was a conflict for the agency to take trips paid for by vendors seeking state firstname.lastname@example.org