Residents weigh in on proposed Everett Turnpike wideningBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
October 03. 2018 11:43PM
MERRIMACK — Dozens of residents attended a public hearing Wednesday eager to learn more about the proposed widening of a 12-mile section of the F.E. Everett Turnpike.
Construction could begin in 2021 or 2022 to widen a stretch of the turnpike in Nashua, Merrimack and Bedford.
“The project is broken up into three segments,” said Rob Faulkner, a consultant working with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation on the preliminary design. “There will be a need for some right of way acquisitions.”
About 50 property owners could be impacted by the acquisition process, according to representatives from NHDOT; several of those owners attended the public hearing hosted by a special committee appointed by the governor and Executive Council to determine the necessity of the project.
The $134 million project will likely take several construction seasons to complete, and include multiple noise barriers.
“We are fairly early in the design stages,” said Wendy Johnson, project manager with NHDOT.
The proposed widening project would provide a total of six lanes — three lanes in each direction — along a 12-mile section of road from Exit 8 in Nashua to the I-293/Route 101 interchange in Bedford.
Several bridges will be improved as part of the project, and stormwater runoff improvements will be made, according to Faulkner.
The bridges that will be replaced or improved include the Wire Road Bridge, Baboosic Lake Road Bridge and the turnpike bridges over Baboosic Brook, Pennichuck Brook and Greeley Street.
Currently, the turnpike is operating at a near-failing level of service during peak rush hour, and with projected traffic growth expected in the near future, the turnpike will eventually encounter stop-and-go traffic during peak times.
“The town absolutely appreciates the widening of the turnpike … We are impacted by it daily,” said Finlay Rothhaus, Merrimack town councilor.
The project includes a southern segment from Exit 8 in Nashua to Exit 10 in Merrimack, a 5.3 mile stretch of middle segment in Merrimack and the northern segment from the Bedford tolls to the I-293/Route 101 interchange.
The $133.8 million project includes $114 million in construction costs, $13 million in engineering fees and $6.8 million for right-of-way studies and acquisitions, according to Johnson. The project is currently included in the state’s 10-year transportation plan.
Nelson Disco, Merrimack planning board member, said he applauds the design, specifically a proposal to construct sidewalks along the Baboosic Lake bridge. He urged planners to also consider sidewalks at the Wire Road bridge.
Several neighbors expressed concerns about how the project will impact their property values, create additional noise in local neighborhoods, decrease their green space and negatively impact the environment.
Multiple requests were made to add extra noise barriers into the project.