SALEM — Drivers, beware. Get ready for construction almost all summer on one of the town's most heavily traveled roads.
State Department of Transportation officials appeared before selectmen last night to outline a $1.4 million project to upgrade Rockingham Boulevard.
The work starts in July and is expected to wrap up in late September, according to DOT engineer Kevin Prince.
But the road, which leads to The Mall at Rockingham Park, will remain open. The work will mainly be done from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to minimize delays, he said.
"Traffic will always be able to get through," Prince said.
The construction involves the removal and replacement of two inches of pavement for sixth-tenths of a mile from the Interstate 93 ramps to Route 28, he said.
The project also includes replacing guardrails, improving drainage and upgrading traffic signals.
"Some of the guardrails have been beat up," Prince said.
Drainage will be improved by replacing catch basins, he said.
"Some of them have seen better days and are falling apart," Prince said.
Traffic signals will be replaced at the entrance to Rockingham Park, Mall Road and Route 28, he said.
Selectman Everett McBride Jr. was pleased to hear of the new traffic light proposed at the Route 28 intersection.
"It's really out of snyc right now," he said.
The project coincides with work the town will be doing from Veterans Memorial Parkway to Cluff Road, Selectman Michael Lyons said.
Town Manager Keith Hickey said the town will work with the state to make sure there are no problems with the two road projects being done simultaneously.
Perhaps the best news for residents is the work won't affect the tax rate. Eighty percent of the project will be federally funded, with the state paying for the remaining 20 percent.
But Selectman Stephen Campbell was concerned the project would be delayed by a failure of lawmakers in Washington to agree to a long-term extension of the federal transportation program.
"I would be worried if we're all ready to pave it and the federal government doesn't come up with their 80 percent," Campbell said.
DOT representative James Marshall said the program was extended for 90 days over the weekend. He did not know what would happen if another extension wasn't granted.
Members of the state's congressional delegation have said failure to obtain a long-term extension could jeopardize part of the widening of Interstate 93 from Salem to Manchester.
Lyons praised DOT officials for taking on the Rockingham Boulevard project. "Thank you for coming in and doing that road," he said. "We're close to losing that road, I think. It needs to get done."
Lyons also asked for an update on state work planned for the northern end of Route 28 and Brady Avenue.
Also last night, selectmen heard a request from resident Carrie Lavoie that the town extend the sewer line along Lawrence Road. The issue is to be discussed further at a future meeting.
Selectmen also accepted an anonymous businessman's donation of $26,050 to help purchase four motorcycles for the police department.
In addition, they accepted a $4,125 grant from the New Hampshire Safety Agency for the Clique Seat Belt Campaign.
The grant would be used to make sure people are wearing seat belts, Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said. Officers would be stationed at checkpoints, usually intersections, and not making random stops, he said.
Selectmen also accepted a $5,041 donation from the Greater Salem Rotary Club to provide a new surface for the playground at Hedgehog Park.
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