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Look for construction delays on I-93 in Salem

Union Leader Correspondent

February 20. 2012 11:33PM

SALEM - Nighttime lane closures will cause traffic delays between Exits 2 and 3 on Interstate 93 as crews demolish the Brookdale Road Bridge in March.

Lane closures are expected to begin near Exit 2 in Salem on March 4, according to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. The work is expected to take about a week.

The construction is part of a $4.3 million project to replace the Brookdale Road Bridge over I-93. Northbound lanes in the work zone will close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Southbound lanes will close between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. as the work is being done.

Traffic delays are not new to residents of Salem and Windham, who have tolerated years of construction in the hopes of relieving highway congestion. About 100,000 cars travel daily on the roadway that was designed to handle about 60,000, according to a news release from the office of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

The end is in sight for the I-93 widening project, but funding issues may delay completion of the work. About $115 million in bonding authority is on hold due to uncertainty surrounding federal funding. Part of that money would be put toward contracts for the bulk of work around Exit 2 and the final configuration of Exit 3.

Shaheen will host a roundtable discussion at Salem Town Hall today at 3 p.m. about the importance of extending the federal highway bill and widening I-93.

The possible delay is frustrating for local officials and business owners in the area relying on increased traffic flow to feed economic growth.

'The I-93 project is critical to the future economic vitality of Windham and all of southern New Hampshire,' said Windham Community Development Director Laura Scott. 'Our businesses want it, our citizens want it, and we need to get it done.'

Business owners in Windham have long understood that the highway project includes reconfiguration of parts of Route 111 and surrounding roads. Many have included in their own expansion plans the expectation that certain streets would be moved or traffic signals installed.

'The state has been really good in working with us and keeping us in the same position,' said Al Letizio Jr., president of A.J. Letizio Sales and Marketing Inc.

His wholesale food sales and marketing business sits at the intersection of Route 111 and I-93. The building will remain in the same place, but when the highway project is complete Route 111, also known as Indian Rock Road, will pass on the south side and end in a cul-de-sac. Letizio is planning a land swap and reconfiguration of his property that will allow him to maintain parking and keep his front door aligned with Route 111.

'We lost property on one side of our building and we picked it up on the other side,' Letizio said.

State and local officials recognize the value of tax-paying businesses in Windham and have been sensitive to his business needs throughout the project, Letizio said. Maintaining the flexibility to accommodate expansion on his property was a key factor for Letizio, whose business has been growing steadily.

'We feel confident that we'll be able to expand to meet our needs and we will not have to leave Windham,' Letizio said.

Letizio said the I-93 widening project will dramatically improve the environment, calm traffic and increase his ability to grow.

'I'm hoping that by 2015 we'll be able to finish our project,' Letizio said.

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