CHOCORUA — After months of reviewing and tweaking the design plans for the Chocorua Village Safety Improvements project, Tamworth town officials are awaiting the final OK from the state Department of Transportation.
Its approval is necessary before the project can go out for bid.
The nearly million-dollar project addresses village safety and environmental issues with improvements in pedestrian and intersection lighting, landscaping, signage, roadway and intersection reconstruction and drainage improvements. The $965,000 for the project comes from federal highway funds.
The village is a part of the town of Tamworth and is bisected by Route 16, the only continuous north-south highway on the eastern side of New Hampshire. The road in Chocorua serves thousands of vehicles a day, with numbers comparable to I-93 in Franconia. A 2010 NHDOT daily traffic count registered 7,500 vehicles.
Though two state highways, Route 16 and Route 113, intersect in the village, there is only a blinking traffic light and speed limit signs to slow down the through traffic.
The village is also the gateway to the Eastern Slope region of the White Mountains and is just south of the iconic view of Mount Chocorua, as seen across the lake that bears the same name.
The work, which is expected to begin this summer, is Phase II of the village improvements. Phase I greatly improved parking along Route 16, and included new sidewalks, among other improvements. The funds for the earlier projects were largely from federal programs.
On Thursday, Selectman Steve Grey said they're pleased with what it looks like, and that businesses will be able to function during construction. The project includes new concrete surface treatment in front of parallel parking spaces at commercial properties, with traffic control islands along the northwest side of the road.
"It's the first village that Route 16 goes through," he pointed out. Folks, he added, are happy with the plans, which will make the village much more pedestrian-friendly. He said the hope is that the project will be completed by foliage season.
At Tamworth Town Hall on Thursday, former selectman Will Farnum said, "It's a narrow road and needs to be improved." He said it was about 10 years ago that the Chocorua Village Association made a request for a federal grant, but that it was three or four years after that the work on the ground actually began.
The angle at which Chocorua Road enters Route 16, at the southwest corner of the village, will change, so that drivers can turn at a right angle.
The plans were developed by H.E. Bergeron Engineers of North Conway, with landscape plans done by John Wacker & Associates Landscape Architects of Tamworth. Lee Carroll Electrical Engineers of Gorham did the electrical designs.