By John Toole
---- — LONDONDERRY — Officials from Londonderry last night appealed for the state to include the $8 million Pettengill Road project in New Hampshire’s 10-year Transportation Plan.
Town Manager Kevin Smith said the project would open 1,000 acres near Manchester-Boston Regional Airport for development, creating an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 jobs.
“We appreciate you taking that into consideration,” Smith told state Transportation Commissioner Chris Clement and other state officials.
Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said even if the Pettengill Road project could be added to the 10-year plan with zero funding, that could help officials as they advocate for federal aid.
“It would be very helpful to us,” Carson said.
Windham’s top economic development official, Community Development director Laura Scott, added her voice in support of Pettengill Road, saying it would positively impact all of Southern New Hampshire.
“Economic development doesn’t just stay within the boundary of a community,” Scott said.
Clement, meanwhile, said the 10-year plan does envision finishing the Interstate 93 widening, including the Exit 4A east interchange, though the state still needs to find $250 million to complete the work.
“It is the state’s most important project,” Clement said.
Scott also advocated for engineering funds to help reduce traffic congestion on Route 111 in Windham and construction of a new park-and-ride near Exit 3.
“We do have a need for the Exit 3 park-and-ride to happen,” she said.
Deb Paul of Londonderry encouraged state officials to reconsider the long abandoned plans for a road linking I-93 with the airport.
State officials said the 10-year plan totals about $3.5 billion. Clement said it anticipates annual federal aid of $150 million will continue.
Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission executive director David Preece said the agency, through an advisory process, recommended about $480 million in projects to DOT beyond the I-93 widening.
But state transportation officials have suggested the region only can expect about $116 million, Preece said.
Clement stressed the plan is only a draft at this point, one the governor and Legislature will finalize later.
“It’s very much a working document,” the commissioner said.
Throughout the session officials acknowledged the state is operating under financial constraints that will make funding projects a challenge.
“We’ve got to be very smart about this and very resourceful,” Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, who represents Londonderry, said.
Pappas also underscored the economic importance of the funding decisions.
“We’re talking about jobs that come along with these projects,” Pappas said.
About two dozen people attended the hearing at the town offices.
It’s one of about two dozen scheduled throughout the state in the next few weeks.
Another hearing will be held Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Derry Municipal Center.