Drive south from Manchester any Sunday afternoon and see what happens when four lanes becomes two. Or head south any weekday morning and watch the traffic build up for miles as commuters jam the two lanes in an effort to get to jobs to the south.
But, as much as all those drivers want a wider highway to get them to their destinations faster and safer, they don’t want construction to slow down their drive time.
Stamnas and company have designed the work to cause as little disruption as possible.
That means more night work and, more significantly, moving traffic away from work zones.
That has mean fewer travel disruptions, but also some unusual configurations.
Travel lanes shift to accommodate work
Take the stretch between the state line and Exit 2 — in both directions.
Work in the Exit 1 area is about 75 percent complete, with a total cost of $32 million. It includes widening travel lanes, replacing two bridges, rebuilding ramps and building 1,600 feet of sound barrier.
Right now, it’s a bit of a puzzle for drivers. Cranes work close to the shoulder. Multiple orange warning signs warn motorists of disappearing lanes. Cruisers are stationed alongside the road to provide additional warnings.
“It’s an interim condition at Exit 1 and it won’t be finalized until next summer in both directions,” Stamnas said.
Heading north, there will be another lane prior to the off-ramp. Another lane will be added on the median side, where pavement is visible now.
The so-called “lane drop” will move “beyond the influence of the northbound on-ramp,” he said.
Sound complicated? It is. It’s one of the most heavily traveled stretches of the 20-mile project.
Stamnas acknowledges it isn’t perfect now.
“I think it’s an area of accidents in general,” he said. “I think any time you introduce construction activity in that type of volume, it creates a circumstance that isn’t ideal.”