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February 27. 2014 8:26PM

Appraiser shortage affecting Broad Street Parkway

NASHUA — In the heart of the Nashua Millyard, there are still properties that must be acquired to pave way for the Broad Street Parkway, which is already under construction.

John Vancor, manager for the nearly two-mile roadway project, updated city officials this week on the parkway's progress, including its timeline and budget.

There have been some delays in acquiring all of the parcels needed for the right-of-way, Vancor said. The state Department of Transportation is overseeing the property acquisitions for the city since federal dollars are involved, Vancor said.

Recently, there has been limited access to pre-qualified appraisers available to complete some of the work, he said, adding the shortage of appraisers has created some scheduling concerns.

"There are still some acquisitions to go," said Vancor. "There are a number of appeals going on."

Although the project already has the property rights for the right-of-way, the appraisal and appeal process can be time consuming, Vancor said.

"Right now we are held up just a little bit getting it done," he said, adding it will not delay construction.

Construction work is already progressing, as contracts for various portions of the roadway have been approved. Those contracts were less than originally expected, so there have been some cost savings, said Vancor.

In December, the projected cost to complete the roadway project was about $60.5 million. That figure is now closer to $57.5 million because of the lower contract bids, he said.

"Incrementally, the cost has been going down," said Vancor, noting he is hoping for the best while still planning for the worst. Unexpected environmental concerns and the remaining acquisition costs could alter the price tag, he said.

"There is a significant cost in delaying," said Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9, questioning the price gap on some of the acquisition requests.

Vancor said the remaining properties are all in different stages of the acquisition process, but stressed that DOT is taking its responsibilities seriously to meet the rights of homeowners and follow federal guidelines.

"The rules are pretty strict," he said.

Alderman-at-Large Brian McCarthy said the appeals will not delay construction, as they are dealing with acquisitional costs — not the actual acquisition of the property, which has already been secured.

The Broad Street Parkway will provide another crossing over the Nashua River, allowing motorists to bypass Amherst Street, possibly alleviate downtown traffic and potentially attract more business to the Millyard Technology Park.

Construction includes a new Nashua River Bridge, as well as construction to the Baldwin Street and Fairmount Street bridges. Work has already begun on Baldwin Street, and the bridge there is expected to be completed by the start of the next school year. Contractors have until Nov. 1, however, to finish that portion of the project.

Work on the Fairmount Street Bridge will begin once Baldwin Street is finished, and that section of the project should be completed in about a year, said Vancor. He said the new Nashua River Bridge will be finished before that, however, with an opening date planned for May 1, 2015.

"That is still our goal," Vancor told the aldermanic Committee on Infrastructure this week.

khoughton@newstote.com



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