Parkway still has hurdles to clear
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
— The right-of-way for the future Broad Street Parkway has not yet been cleared, as there are still four properties that have to be acquired before the two-mile urban roadway is constructed.
"There are still a number of right-of-ways we need to acquire," project manager John Vancor recently told the Nashua Board of Public Works. "We don't have all of the property yet for the (Nashua) River Bridge."
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation is managing the acquisitions needed along Broad Street to pave way for the three new bridges that will be built as part of the parkway.
"In each case, offers have been made by the DOT on the city's behalf for the property that is needed. Offers are under review by the owners," said Vancor, of Hayner Swanson Inc. of Nashua.
Because the Federal Highway Administration previously issued a Record of Decision, and the property needed for the roadway has already been identified through a public hearing process, Vancor said DOT has the ability to obtain the properties through eminent domain if an agreement is not reached.
Meanwhile, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau has requested that the FHA grant the city permission to advertise for the Nashua River Bridge contract — one of three bridge contracts for the project — before all of the rights-of-way have been acquired.
"In this case, Federal Highway has indicated they are uncomfortable with proceeding on that basis," said Vancor. Typically, all of the properties must be acquired before a construction contract can go out to bid, he said.
The FHA has expressed concerns about possible delay claims being filed by contractors if work is stalled because of land acquisition disputes, according to Vancor."They have not slammed the door on this," Vancor said of advertising prior to obtaining full right of way, explaining DOT and the FHA are exploring all of the options and looking at specific parcels.
Vancor did not identify the parcels or partial parcels that have yet to be acquired, but did note that they are all void of any buildings or homes. He said the right-of-way acquisition in the parkway south section is taking longer than hoped, partially because appraisals are taking a while to be completed, he said.
"In the worst case, the properties would be obtained by the end of October (via eminent domain)," said Vancor.The new Nashua River Bridge will be the largest of the three bridges to be constructed. Lozeau said last week she would like to have a second joint meeting between the Board of Public Works and the Board of Aldermen to discuss design elements of the Nashua River Bridge.Earlier this year, city officials were presented with different options for the facade of the three bridges. At the time, some aldermen agreed that the Nashua River Bridge should receive some type of visual enhancements such as decorative rails, lights or overlooks, while other city officials and members of the public said the beautifications are unnecessary.
Final designs have already been completed on the two smaller bridges — the Fairmount and Baldwin street bridges, according to Vancor.
The parkway north contract, or the Baldwin Street Bridge contract, has already been advertised. Vancor is estimating about a $13.9 million contract for that portion of the work, although a more accurate number will be available on Tuesday when the bids are opened.
The Broad Street Parkway is an $82 million road project, with a portion of that price tag being spent before it was approved by the city in 2008. The estimated cost to complete the roadway is about $68 million, with $37.5 million being paid by the city and the rest through federal funds. The project is on schedule to begin construction this year, with completion expected by the end of 2014.The Broad Street Parkway is currently the largest municipally-managed project in New Hampshire. Its goal is to provide another crossing over the Nashua River and potentially attract more businesses to the millyard email@example.com