As travelers hit Interstate 93 today at the end of the long holiday weekend, they may encounter some traffic backups in Southern New Hampshire.
But federal, state and local leaders are hopeful the congestion that clogs I-93 on a daily basis will diminish with the completion of the 20-mile widening from Salem and Manchester.
Although the deadline is six years off and potential problems receiving federal funding threaten to delay the $769 million project, motorists can still expect to see a lot of big changes soon, according to New Hampshire Department of Transportation officials.
That may seem hard to be believe for drivers accustomed to seeing blasting and excavating taking place along the highway for the last several years.
They can look forward to someday seeing four travel lanes in each direction, eliminating much of the congestion. Motorists can also look forward to large portions of the project being finished.
Major work near Exit 1 in Salem has already been completed and construction at Exit 5 in Londonderry is almost done.
“That will be finished up this summer,” project manager Pete Stamnas said.
The entire project is about 60 percent complete, he said. The first public hearings were held in November 2002.
The work at Exit 5, which began in 2011, is approximately 85 percent complete, Stamnas said. Four bridges were recently constructed in that area.
“We have active construction at Exit 2, Exit 3 and Exit 5,” Stamnas said. “Construction activity is going strong right now.”
That may be an understatement.
On any given day, crews and heavy equipment can be seen building bridges, constructing roadways, excavating rock and soil, and closing in on one project milestone after another.
Subcontractors have been coping with below-freezing temperatures in the winter and 90-degree heat and humidity in the summer, including last week, to get the job done. Some are even working weekends.