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Major 'disruption'
 expected for bridge work in Hooksett

HOOKSETT — Dean Shankle drives over the Main Street Bridge on his way to and from work each day.

The Hooksett town administrator, like many of the residents who pay his salary, relies on the Merrimack River overpass to get from one side of town to the other.

This summer, however, those same drivers may want to, or perhaps be forced to, seek an alternate route.

The N.H. Department of Transportation has scheduled a facelift for the bridge, and Shankle said improvements may run into the fall, perhaps longer.

A public information meeting on the project has been scheduled as part of the town council meeting Wednesday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m.

Shankle said he was first informed of the impending project in January. He said the meeting, which includes public officials, is intended to provide as many details as possible to those who may be impacted by the project.

"This is going to mean a significant disruption of traffic and probably for an extended period of time, there's no doubt about it," he said. "I'd certainly encourage people to come out and be informed about what this is going to mean for them."

The bridge hasn't received significant improvements since being built in the 1970s, said Shankle. A recent inspection revealed some structural and safety concerns which need attention sooner rather than later.

Shankle said the N.H. DOT is exploring several options, including shutting down the bridge altogether.

Because it's so well-traveled and essential to commuters, Shankle said planners will likely shut down one lane at a time, which will prolong the project but create less hassle.

The planned bridgework includes replacement of the bridge deck pavement and membrane, partial and full depth deck repairs, replacement of expansion joints, adding protective screening and a snow fence where needed, and the replacement of approach rail end terminal units on the north side of the bridge.

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