The Derry Town Council has approved an agreement with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) for work to be done inside the town borders to facilitate the widening of Interstate 93.
Pete Stamnas, a project manager with DOT, appeared at the Sept. 15 Town Council meeting to discuss the scope of the work. The Council later voted unanimously to authorize Interim Town Administrator Susan Hickey to sign the agreement.
Stamnas said this portion of the four-year, $50 million project involves widening the highway from the Windham weigh station to Kendall Pond Road in Derry. This phase of the project is scheduled to be put out to bid this fall, with work planned to begin next spring, he said.
The scope of the project includes reconstructing the existing two-lane road to accommodate four lanes, rehabbing the two bridges over Fordway Extension, and constructing a 1,700-linear-foot sound wall, Stamnas said.
While 99 percent of the work will be on the “main line” or Interstate, a small portion of the project will require some work on town roads, Stamnas said. The local work will be on Fordway Extension and Kendall Pond Road, he said.
Stamnas said the DOT’s policy is to maintain both lanes of traffic during a project. “There will be closures of short duration,” he said. “We will return your roads to pre-construction condition or better.”
“Will the two lanes ever go down to one lane?” Councilor David Fischer asked him.
Stamnas reiterated that it’s the DOT’s practice to keep both lanes open. They will use Jersey barriers and occasionally “rolling roadblocks,” but the two lanes will remain open, he said.
Stamnas said he has met with Derry Police Chief Edward Garone on the impact of the project to traffic and safety.
Councilor Mark Osborne asked about the criteria by which DOT decides the ratio of police details to civilian “flaggers” on the project.
“If it’s a signalized intersection or high-volume traffic, we will use officers,” Stamnas said. “If it’s low-volume traffic, we use civilian flaggers.”
Stamnas said there was only a limited amount of work on local roads, thus a limited need for Derry police details.
Councilor Joshua Bourdon asked what the expected impact on Derry would be, and Stamnas said the impact would be “scattered” over three of the four years of the project.
Bourdon also asked if the DOT would seek input from Michael Fowler, director of public works, and Stamnas said he would. “I like to touch base, to work with town staff whenever necessary,” he said.
Stamnas added, “The worst thing for me as a project manager is for people to have misinformation.”
The Council voted 7-0 to authorize Hickey to sign the agreement.