April 11. 2013 1:10PM

Construction begins on widening Route 3/28

By Harry Kozlowski

Spring has brought the return of road work to Hooksett as the New Hampshire Department of Transportation has begun work widening Hooksett Road, or routes 3 and 28, from Benton Road to Martins Ferry Road. Continental Paving of Londonderry was the winning bidder for the project.
The budget for the 0.4-mile road widening project is just under $4.1 million. The process is an intricate one, said project manager Don Lyford of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

“A lot of utilities need to be moved, both below ground and above ground, before we can do the roadway” he said.

In fact, you won’t likely see much progress this year, as most of the work goes on below ground. Then once the snow begins to fall, work will be halted until next spring. The entire project is expected to be completed by October 2014. But the completed road will be five lanes wide – two travel lanes north and south with a turn lane in between. There will be no concrete barriers or median dividing the road.

This work comes after considerable time and money was spent on a drainage culvert that runs under the R.K. Plaza and Route 3/28, then under part of Merchant’s Auto and Benton Road. The Kmart in Hooksett has flooded repeatedly after heavy rains.

Lyford said that the widening of Route 3/28 will ease some of the traffic backups that occur at rush hour.

“There is a lot of traffic in and out in this area” said Lyford about Route 3/28 between Benton and Martins Ferry. “Benton, Whitehall Road ... a lot of traffic is added and taken away from the system right here.” Once completed, the rush hour backups should be reduced.

While construction goes on, merchants on Hooksett Road have to deal with the effects. For some, that impact is negligible. For Merchant’s Auto, the giant auto dealership right in the middle of the construction zone, business has continued to grow, according to general manager Adam Secore.

“Our numbers have been strong,” said Secore of his dealership’s sales figures during construction. “In fact, they have been some of our best ever.”

Merchants had to deal with the installation of the drainage culvert the year earlier when part of the dealership had to be dug up. According to Secore, outside of one day when power went out, the impact of construction on his business had been minor.

But that’s not the story across the street at Twin’s Smoke Shop. Manager Jenny Lynn Hunter says her business has felt the impact of construction.

“Customers don’t want to deal with it” said Hunter, whose business has seen a decline. “In the long run I know it’s for the good, but right now it hurts.”

Twins lost some of its parking when police diverted traffic into the store’s lot when Hooksett Road was being excavated. Recently, Hunter said, a utility pole was moved in front of the store sign partially blocking its view from the street.