Final design of Route 101 widening project nearly complete
BEDFORD — Crews will begin prep work this summer for the widening of a two-mile stretch of Route 101 in Bedford.
“We are putting together the final design details,” Victoria Chase, project manager with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, said on Friday.
The road improvements have been included in the state’s 10-year transportation plan for several years, and the estimated $15 million project is about to get started.
Work includes the widening of Route 101 from its intersection with Route 114 to Wallace Road into five lanes of travel.
“This has been a really complicated project,” admits Chase, who is pleased that construction will begin in three or four months.
Crews will start relocating utilities this summer, which will take a significant amount of preliminary work to begin the true construction process in 2018. Following two full construction seasons, Chase anticipates that the road widening project will be complete at the end of September of 2019.
The project is designed to improve traffic flow and congestion along the busy stretch of Route 101 during peak traffic hours; a previous corridor study determined that Route 101 carries about 36,000 vehicles daily.
“Construction is tough, but it needs to happen. We will not be detouring people,” said Chase. “It will be horrible in the interim, but it will be all worth it in the end.”
DOT will be utilizing smart work zone signs that will notify travelers of delays, which will allow drivers to find their own alternative routes of travel, if necessary.
Once the final design of the road improvements are complete, Chase anticipates that DOT will begin advertising for a construction firm in April. It was previously predicted that about 75 properties would be impacted by the widening project, and that some right-of-way properties or easements would need to be acquired.
“We are in really good shape with that,” said Chase, adding most of the property acquisitions were settled amicably in court, although some properties were taken by eminent domain.
State officials will be in constant communication with Bedford officials and residents about the construction process, according to Chase.
Once complete, there will be two lanes of travel in both directions along Route 101 from its intersection with Wallace Road to the intersection of Route 114. The fifth lane will be a center lane of travel that will sometimes consist of left-turn pockets and sometimes include a raised median.
“We understand that this is Bedford’s downtown. It will be much better once the widening is finished,” said Chase, adding the iconic tree hanging over Route 101 in front of the Bedford Village Inn will remain standing, and there may be some grassy areas included in the project.