EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 21, 2013

I-93 widening money approved

Executive Council approves $9m to help complete I-93 project

By John Toole

---- — A $9.4 million contract to design the final leg of the Interstate 93 widening project was awarded yesterday by the governor and Executive Council.

Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., with offices in New York and Manchester, was among a half-dozen firms considered for the design work.

State Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement, in a memo to Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council, said the engineering services relate to a series of projects from Windham to Manchester.

The work includes the design for widening 4.1 miles of I-93 from Windham to Derry. It also encompasses reconstruction of the Derry-Londonderry Exit 4 interchange, including a redesign of Route 102 and a new bridge, and widening 2 miles in Londonderry and another 3.2 miles from Londonderry to Manchester.

Some of the work in Londonderry and Manchester will involve construction of four soundwalls.

Clement told the governor and council, which oversees state contracts, that he recommended Parsons Brinckerhoff.

“This firm has an excellent reputation and has demonstrated their capability to perform the necessary engineering and technical services for this assignment,” Clement said.

The price is reasonable, the commissioner said.

“This is a reasonable fee and is commensurate with the complexity of the project and the scope of engineering and technical services to be furnished,” he said.

Contract approval comes as state officials consider how to fund the estimated $250 million in work remaining to be completed between now and 2020.

Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry, led a successful effort last year to put in place a financing mechanism and, with Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, is pushing for state authorization of a casino to help pay for highway work.

Their casino bill was heard in a Senate committee this week.

They would put 45 percent of revenues the state would derive from gaming toward road and bridge work, including the I-93 widening.

“We would be doing much more work on road improvement and bridge improvement in the state of New Hampshire, which was our goal,” Morse told reporters at a Statehouse briefing@text1: this week.

The Legislature will consider other options, including a gas tax increase.

But Rausch and Morse made it clear they see casino revenues as a better funding option.

Rausch, the Senate Transportation Committee chairman, said he’s hopeful the casino proposal will kill talk of a gas tax increase.

“It’s very important to me that we improve our infrastructure,” Rausch said.

“This bill does that as a non-tax entity for our citizens,” he said. “This is a win-win without an increase in any tax.”

Morse, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, agreed, saying the reality is gaming revenues represent non tax dollars.

“I think that’s truly the way we should be looking at our budget coming forward right now,” Morse said.