The updated exit 4A environmental impact study funded by the towns of Derry and Londonderry to the tune of 5 million dollars each is nearing completion. A 2007 draft environmental impact study was found to be outdated and partially inaccurate by the time funding was secured for the widening project and had to be updated. The study by CLD Consulting Engineers, Inc. of Manchester will be sent to the Federal Highway Administration for review next spring.
Officials had previously hoped that the study would be complete by this month. The current estimate for completion is now April of 2018.
One area of concern that is slowing the process is salt reduction. Any exit option will add salt according to Derry Public Works Director, Mike Fowler, but the area around Beaver Brook has a low salt usage mandate because Beaver Brook is currently listed as an impaired waterway by the Environmental Protection Agency due to past road salt usage.
Fowler is optimistic that the brook will be removed from that listing within the year, pointing out improvements in salt usage techniques in recent years. “In the old days salt usage was not even measured. Now, with rising costs of salt, [improved] driver education, and brine use, this has all come together to reduce salt use overall.” Said Fowler.
The communities of Derry, Londonderry, Windham and Salem have joined efforts to make the reduction of salt use a priority in watershed areas impacted by the Interstate 93 widening project.
After completion of the study, the Federal Highway Administration has 120 days to review the study and recommend a route for exit 4A. After that 18 to 24 months of work securing permits will begin. This means that construction on Exit 4a will begin between late 2019 and the middle of 2020.
Numerous routes have been proposed, with the clear front runner connecting Interstate 93 to North High street at Ash Street.