Spaulding Turnpike expansion begins next week
While crews from Severino Trucking Co. of Candia continue construction work on the Little Bay Bridges project in Newington, work is also getting under way on widening the Spaulding Turnpike from Exit 1 past Exit 5 at Hilton Park. Alvin J. Coleman and Sons, Inc. of North Conway will be the general contractor for that phase of the construction. (GRETYL MACALASTER/Union Leader Correspondent)
The Little Bay Bridges project, which has been under way for about 18 months, is moving to the next step, connecting roads to the new bridge under construction.
The next phase of the project will take place on a 2.8-mile section of the highway between Exit 1 at Gosling Road down past Exit 5 at Hilton Park.
Ultimately, there will be three lanes in each direction, north- and southbound, from Exit 1 to Exit 3 at Woodbury Avenue, and from there to the Little Bay Bridges it will be widened further to four lanes in each direction, Bill Hersey, contract administrator with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, said.
Hersey said those familiar with the Spaulding Turnpike know that every morning around 8 a.m. traffic backs up heading south, and every evening going home, particularly on Fridays, traffic is backed up past Exit 1 headed north.
“It needs more lanes, it needs more widening,” Hersey said.
A new interchange will be constructed at Exit 3 that will also connect to Arboretum Drive in the Pease Tradeport.
“Right now, if you are going south, you go left and underneath the northbound lanes and over to Woodbury Avenue. We’re going to change that and are going to put a bridge over the turnpike to Woodbury Avenue and put on a full interchange,” Hersey said.
The $43 million project is expected to wrap up around July 2015.
“So over the course of the next three years, we are going to go through at least six phases of traffic changes,” Hersey said, adding that the lane switches will be similar to what has happened during the expansion of the turnpike in Rochester from the tollbooths to Exit 16.
Hersey said they are required to have two lanes of northbound and two lanes of southbound traffic open continually during the daytime and rush hours, but are permitted to go down to a single lane for certain work at night, when the traffic volume decreases.
The speed limit will also be reduced in the areas of construction to 45 mph.
“It is not a big reduction, but it is to make it a safer work speed,” Hersey said.
Smart work zone message boards, also similar to those in Rochester, will alert drivers to traffic delays.
“I think there always has been a traffic control plan that goes with a construction project that helps us, but this job specifically has very detailed plans which show where the traffic is at each different phase,” Hersey said.
During periods of blasting, they will deploy rolling roadblocks, with two state troopers slowing traffic down during ledge excavation next spring, or this winter, weather permitting.
Next week, clearing will get underway, and a test embankment will be built near Exit 6 in Dover.
The embankment will allow scientific instrumentation to be put in the ground, covered by fill, to determine how the marine clay underneath the ground in the area settles.
“We will use that information to design the project that is going to happen in Dover. There is a lot of marine clay in that area next to the bay, and they need to know what is the best way to deal with it,” Hersey said. The study is being conducted by NHDOT in partnership with the University of New Hampshire.
Traffic near Exit 6 may be impacted next week as clearing begins.
Hersey said there will be a dedicated effort to keep drivers informed, including a project website, and through the traffic management center in Concord.
The general contractor on the project is Alvin J. Coleman and Sons, Inc. of North Conway.
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Gretyl Macalaster may be reached at email@example.com.
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