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May 20. 2013 7:01PM

Spaulding Turnpike overhaul continues on schedule

NEWINGTON — Construction is under way on the revamping of the Spaulding Turnpike between Newington and the Dover Toll Plaza.

In recent weeks, crews have begun clearing trees in the median between the southbound and northbound lanes north of Exit 3. Heading south toward Interstate 95, a bridge abutment has started to appear in the area of Pease International Tradeport that will carry traffic through a new Exit 3 interchange to Woodbury Avenue once complete.

The timeline and details of the project, which are arranged under multiple, multi-year contracts, were discussed by New Hampshire Department of Transportation officials during an informational meeting in Dover last Thursday.

Construction is scheduled to continue through at least 2017, with rehabilitation of the General Sullivan Bridge not expected until close to 2019.

In total, the project is expected to cost about $212.8 million. The first phase, contract “L,” is construction of the southbound Little Bay Bridge, which is nearing completion. Phase two, contract “M,” covers construction of Exits 3 and 4, expected to be done in the summer of 2015. Rehabilitation of the existing Little Bay bridge, contract “O,” will begin once traffic is moved off it. Contract “Q” covers construction of Exit 6 and of soundproof walls in the area. The final contract, “S,” covers rehabilitation of the General Sullivan Bridge, which provides pedestrian and bicycle access between Dover and Portsmouth.

As part of the overall project, Exit 2, a northbound exit to the Fox Run Mall, and Exit 5, a northbound exit to Hilton Park, will be eliminated.

In their place, a full interchange at Exit 3 is being created, as is a full interchange at Exit 6 to Dover and Durham.

The turnpike will feature eight lanes, four in each direction from Exit 3 up through the new Exit 6, and then will be reduced to six lanes, north and south.

It is all being paid for through the turnpike investment program.

New Hampshire Department of Transportation project manager Keith Cota said money is in place for the first three contracts. He said transportation officials will be working with the state legislature this spring or early summer to increase bonding authority so DOT can complete the project.

“We are moving forward, anticipating the money to be in place,” Cota said.

Cota said the big question mark regards the historic General Sullivan Bridge.

“We still have to take a look at the existing structure and see what type of problems we have with the bridge and see if it will be cost-effective to rehabilitate, but the goal is to rehab that structure and save it,” Cota said.

The entire deck has to be replaced, as do several key critical structural members that hold up the bridge, Cota said. A complete inspection is scheduled for late fall, although the General Sullivan Bridge project is not scheduled to begin until 2017.

A recent underwater inspection of the old stone piers showed they are in good shape.

A big point of discussion at Thursday’s meeting was whether to put up a transparent sound wall along Pomeroy Cove, or the typical wooden sound wall planned for other areas of the project. A transparent wall could cost four times as much or more.

Most residents who spoke at the meeting seemed to favor the more traditional sound wall.

gmacalaster@newstote.com


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