By John Toole
---- — Spring is here and with it, very soon, the sounds of heavy lifting for the $800 million Interstate 93 widening project in Southern New Hampshire.
This construction season has about $162 million in projects from Exit 5 in Londonderry through Exit 1 in Salem to the Massachusetts line.
“You’re going to see changes constantly out there,” said Jay Levine, New Hampshire Department of Transportation I-93 coordinating supervisor.
Weather will determine project startups, but Levine said the construction action will be moving ahead during April and May.
Snowmelt and runoff are a consideration for the moment.
Crews already are on the job. DOT’s Jon Bradstreet, a contract administrator, said activity is visible at Exit 3 in Windham.
“People should currently see some activity, but it shouldn’t impact them too much,” Bradstreet said, “just trucks coming in and out.”
There are four major projects between Exits 1 and 5 that will affect motorists this construction season.
Middlesex Corp. of Littleton, Mass., has a $32.7 million highway widening and bridge project at Exit 1 in Salem slated for completion this year.
George R. Cairns & Sons of Windham has a $43.6 million project at Exit 2 in Salem involving interchange reconstruction, bridge and ramp work. Work will continue into 2015.
R.S. Audley Inc. of Bow has a $35.1 million southbound widening project at Exit 3 in Windham that also involves relocation of a section of Route 111. Work is expected to be done in 2016.
Severino Trucking Inc. of Candia has the $37.3 million Exit 5 interchange and Route 28 improvements in Londonderry. Work is expected to wrap up next year.
In addition to those major projects, E.D. Swett Inc. of Bow has a $12.1 million bridge replacement project at Exit 3. That is due to be completed this year.
When all expenses such as transit subsidies are included, the $800 million highway widening is the most costly in state history.
Besides the $162 million in projects that DOT said are “in progress,” another $151 million worth of projects are completed. A $39 million northbound project at Exit 3 is expected to be awarded this year. There is $250 million in work to come from next year through 2020.
So, there is no rest ahead for the weary traveler.
“You’ve got to stay alert out there,” Levine said.
DOT already is posting messages on electronic boards in the construction zone, reminding drivers they are in a high-incident area for accidents and they should avoid texting.
“Be courteous, let people merge in front of you, watch your speed,” he said. “There are a lot of interesting things on the side of the highway, but keep your eyes on the road.”
Drivers will see lane shifts during the season which DOT will announce through press releases, message boards and postings on the I-93 construction website, RebuildingI93.com.
There also will be blasting around Exit 3 at the Route 111 interchange that will require rolling roadblocks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“We’ll do that in off-peak hours,” Levine said.
He estimates those rolling roadblocks typically will result in travel delays lasting about five minutes.
Drivers traveling north can expect a big change at Exit 5 in Londonderry during construction season, probably in late summer.
The westward traffic shift introduced to the median area last year will go away as workers finish up improvements to the Exit 5 north approach.
“Our goal is to get traffic back on the main line,” Levine said.
The widening is in the final phase of construction at Exit 1 in Salem.
“You’ll see a lot of paving,” Levine said.
That will require traffic shifts this season.
“That should be done by August,” he said.
Exit 2 in Salem also will be busy. There will be reconfiguration of ramps. Reconstruction along Pelham Road should continue all season, Levine said.