LONDONDERRY — Officials are pessimistic the Pettengill Road project will find its way into the state’s 10-year transportation plan, despite an economic study’s conclusion it could lead to 10,000 or more jobs.
Transportation officials did not include Pettengill in their preliminary recommendations that went through a series of public hearings this summer and fall.
Town and other officials from the region, highlighting Pettengill’s economic potential, appealed for its inclusion during a forum in Londonderry in September.
But Pettengill Road isn’t in the plan.
“Nothing has changed,” Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission executive director David Preece said yesterday.
Local and regional efforts have made every effort to get the project into the plan, but state officials have been reluctant to include Pettengill Road because it is a local road and there are so many state projects to complete amid scarce funding, Preece said.
An advisory commission is expected to send its recommendations concerning the transportation plan to Gov. Maggie Hassan as soon as this week, Preece said.
Meanwhile, the House Public Works and Highways Committee is expected to begin its review of the transportation plan today in Concord.
The proposed four-lane road would cost an estimated $12.5 million and open 1,000 acres for development between Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Interstate 93.
A study by Laconia-based Applied Economic Research concluded business development along the road could create 10,000 to 25,000 jobs.
Officials seized on that as something which could benefit the town, region and state.
“Pettengill Road is the most attractive business development opportunity in New Hampshire — there is essentially no competition for its large, flat sites served by sewer and water elsewhere in the state,” the study said.
But there is a lot of competition for few dollars.
The planning commission asked the state to fund more than $480 million in projects. State transportation officials have said the region can expect about $116 million in funding.
Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement has made clear finishing the Interstate 93 widening remains the state’s priority.
That view is being challenged in the Legislature by the vice chairman of House Public Works and Highways, Rep. John Cloutier, D-Claremont, who has introduced a bill repealing I-93’s priority status.
Cloutier has said he wants officials to have the flexibility to spread funds among other needed projects throughout the state.
Now, he will have the chance to push that view in the committee’s deliberations over the transportation plan, as well as the floor of the House when his own bill comes forward.
Rep. Walter Kolodziej, R-Windham, serves on the House panel.
“I-93 is the main priority for the committee,” Kolodziej said.
Pettengill Road probably will come up for discussion, he said.
“I don’t give it much chance,” he said. “We don’t have enough money to do what we’re trying to do now.”
Pettengill’s likely exclusion from the 10-year plan did not surprise Londonderry officials.
“This doesn’t shock me,” Town Council Chairman John Farrell said. “It never has been in the 10-year plan.”
Londonderry officials, given slim prospects for help through the state, already have moved forward with their own alternative, pursuing creation of a tax financing district that would pay for the project through taxes generated from development.
The Town Council has authorized the district.
But the council isn’t in position yet to bring a bonding question before voters.
That would happen once a corporation is ready to use the land, Farrell said.