Airport access road dedicated
A large crowd is gathered during the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Raymond Wieczorek Drive at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
MANCHESTER — State and federal officials celebrated the opening of the new Manchester-Boston Regional Airport access road with its dedication Thursday as Raymond Wieczorek Drive.
“This new road provides a critical link to one of the major economic engines for the region and the state — the Manchester-Boston Airport,” Gov. John Lynch said.
“Finally motorists can easily and quickly access the airport without having to wind their way down Brown Avenue, something which I have done for close to 35 years,” Lynch said.
“Ray Wieczorek has dedicated his life to serving the people of the city of Manchester, the surrounding area and the people of the state of New Hampshire,” the governor said. “I have had the real honor and pleasure of working with Ray Wieczorek during these last several years. He is someone who is open-minded, independent-thinking and so committed to serving the people of New Hampshire.
“I'm proud to be able to call Ray Wieczorek a friend of mine,” Lynch said. “Ray, thank you for all that you have done for all of us.”
He added: “I want to thank the Department of Transportation and all of the contractors who worked on this road to get it done ahead of schedule and under budget,” Lynch said. “It is going to provide economic development and so many additional jobs for our great state of New Hampshire. “
Airport access road
Twenty years in the making, the new road connects the F.E. Everett Turnpike to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport across the river. The project includes two interchanges, two roundabouts, seven bridges, a multi-use path, and related road work. It officially opens Friday.
More than 200 attended the event.
State Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, said, “For over 40 years, Ray has served our country, state and his beloved community with honor and distinction.”
“So it is fitting today that we honor and celebrate his many civic contributions that have made our state better today and for future generations by naming this road Raymond Wieczorek Drive,” Boutin said.
“He had a big vision for the city of Manchester and for the region,” Boutin said. “And that vision led to the revitalization of the Millyard.
“It's also led to the Verizon (Wireless) Arena and the offshoot of that is a new and rejuvenated downtown where we actually have people walking the streets at night.
“What a remarkable thing,” he said.
Wieczorek paid tribute to his family, particularly his late wife, Susan.
“Thank you for supporting me and always letting me know that my work, while at times very difficult, was well worth the effort,” he said, reading from a plaque he gave to her bearing a key to the city,
Former Manchester mayor and U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., said, “It's been a real pleasure to see this project come to fruition. So many people here have had so much to do with this project,” he said.
“It's not just local city officials, but the state of New Hampshire, governors, Executive Council, Legislature, as well as our Department of Transportation, working corroboratively to make sure that this happens,” Guinta said.
The use of ARRA (Recovery Act) funds allowed the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to accelerate the completion of the project by two years.
Federal Highway Administration N.H. Division Director Patrick Bauer, said, “We are very proud to be part of this new roadway project, with over $117 million in regular federal aid funds used in the project. In addition, over $15 million in Recovery Act funds were authorized for the project.”
$175 million total cost
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “The project, which will create a new, two-mile highway, will provide access to 1,000 acres of prime industrial and commercial land for economic development in Londonderry, New Hampshire. The total cost of the project is estimated at $175 million, of which $15 million is ARRA-funded. According to NHDOT, the project has employed over 200 people and created 26 full-time jobs.
New Hampshire Democratic Party issued a statement Thursday critical of Guinta for opposing the Recovery Act.
“That these politicians who oppose and spread mistruths about the Recovery Act are now heralding the infrastructure and jobs that are a result of its funding shows once again that they will say or do anything to get elected,” said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
NASCAR fans, too
Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, who was re-elected to a second term Tuesday, said Wieczorek responds quickly to constituents and “he truly gives them 100 percent to fix their problem.”
Gatsas, as well as Guinta, said the Manchester airport should be renamed the Manchester-Boston International Airport.
“We want to make sure that we can bring international flights,” Guinta said.
“That's probably the most important project that we can ask our delegation to work on for the entire state of New Hampshire,” Gatsas said.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Gappens, who attended the event, said the new road will benefit both fans and race crews who use the airport.
“We got fans in for our NASCAR weekends from all 50 states and four foreign countries this year,” Gappens said.
“I would estimate 10 percent of our fan base uses Manchester-Boston Regional Airport,” he said.
The new front door
The new road is “an essential component to the continued success and economic vibrancy of this region and of the state,” Airport Director Mark Brewer said.
“Eighty-four percent of our customers will be coming down this road,” he said. “This truly is going to become the new front door to the airport.”
Thursday morning, the Executive Council approved accepting a $3.34 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration for a solar panel installation on top of the airport parking garage.
The project will generate about 650,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.
Robin Comstock, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said, “This is just simply said an excellent example of a private-public sector partnership of community working cooperatively together to build a better today with a brighter tomorrow.”
Pearl Harbor survivors
The blessing was given by the Rev. Paul Montminy of St. Catherine of Siena Church.
Pearl Harbor survivors, for whom the bridge crossing the Merrimack as part of the access road is being named the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, were honored.
Merrimack High School Marching Band played the “National Emblem March,” and Merrimack High School choir sang “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” Later, five of the students fainted.
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