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Officials urge patience as Route 101 widening work begins in Bedford

BEDFORD — Work is already underway to begin widening a busy stretch of Route 101 in Bedford, and transportation officials are stressing that patience will be necessary throughout the two-year project.

“Motorists are going to have to be patient and tolerant,” said Victoria Chase, project manager with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

DOT officials hosted an open house Wednesday at the Bedford Public Library, speaking with local residents and business owners about the $15 million project that has been included in the state’s 10-year transportation plan for several years.

Work includes the widening of a two-mile stretch of Route 101 from its intersection with Route 114 to Wallace Road into five lanes of travel.

Crews have already begun relocating utilities this summer, and additional preparation work will begin in the coming weeks as four retention ponds must be constructed, according to Charlie Blackman with DOT.

“We will try to be mindful of the disruptions,” said Blackman, explaining some night work will take place. He stressed that the highly traveled section of roadway will not be shut down for construction work, and that travel will remain open in both directions.

Delays will be inevitable, he said, adding a smart work zone system will be installed with digital message signs from Milford to Manchester and within Bedford to notify motorists of delays and anticipated lane shifts. Some side roads may need to be temporarily closed at night, but that work will be limited and completed strategically so that no two roadways are closed at the same time, said Blackman.

The project is designed to improve traffic flow and congestion along the busy stretch of Route 101 during peak traffic hours; a previous corridor study determined that Route 101 carries about 36,000 vehicles daily.

“The challenge of a road like this is that some people live on it and some people are trying to get through it. That makes it very challenging,” said Chase. She said DOT officials are working with businesses to be sensitive to their needs and concerns.

There will be some blasting necessary in the area near Liberty Hill Road, as some ledge will need to be removed, according to Chase.

Once completed, there will be two lanes of travel in both directions on that portion of Route 101, along with a median or raised median for a center lane.

“In the end, what a sweet treat it will be for Bedford residents,” said Chase. About 65 properties are impacted by the road widening, with some of them acquired amicably and some through condemnation, she said.

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