SALEM — Two major water main breaks in six days in the Salem Depot area may force the town to accelerate construction plans at the often-congested intersection.
The intersection of Route 28 and Main Street, which town officials say is the busiest in Salem, is scheduled to receive a major overhaul that includes replacement of water lines more than a century old.
But that work isn’t slated to take place until 2019, according to Town Manager Keith Hickey.
Hickey told selectmen at their meeting Monday that they may want to move up the work schedule in the wake of the two breaks Friday and May 23.
The mid-morning fractures in water lines tied up traffic and shut down part of the roadway until late into the night. The second break caused the road to collapse, leaving a 10-by-7-foot crater in the middle of the intersection.
“There are a number of scenarios the board has to make some decisions on moving forward,” Hickey said.
That could include just replacing the water lines before the intersection is reconstructed. That could cost between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, Hickey said.
“You still have 1895 pipe if you do nothing about it,” he said.
Eighty percent of the reconstruction is to be funded by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. The project is expected to include taking some local properties by eminent domain.
The projected cost is unknown because the town must negotiate with property owners whose land is being taken. The timetable is uncertain since any legal battles over the land takings could delay the work.
Accelerating the reconstruction beyond the DOT’s construction schedule could mean the town would have to fund the work, Selectman Michael Lyons said yesterday.
Lyons is the selectmen’s representative to the Town Wide Road Stabilization Committee. He said the committee will have to take another look at the project and selectmen will have to decide how to proceed.