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Northern Pass officials describe Plymouth impacts

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 02. 2017 1:26PM
Eversource executives and consultants took turns answering questions at the Northern Pass hearing in Concord on Monday. From left are Nathan Scott, Lynn Farrington, Samuel Johnson, Kenneth Bowes, Derrick Bradstreet and John Kayser. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

CONCORD — Constructing the Northern Pass would detour traffic around Plymouth’s roundabout, while an existing power line would be moved closer to some homes to make room for the new transmission lines, according to witnesses testifying Tuesday.

"They’re going to have a nice view of the structures — maybe not nice, but they will have a view of the structures," attorney Danielle Pacik, who is representing the city of Concord, asked one witness during a hearing before the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

Concord would see the project’s highest towers, at 160 feet or so, near Interstate 393. Towers would be lower near most homes.

The proposed $1.6 billion project to bring hydropower from Canada into New England needs several state and federal approvals before it can start operating along the 192-mile route in late 2019 or early 2020. Project officials hope to garner all necessary approvals by the end of this year.

Plymouth motorists will face a detour around the downtown roundabout while construction happened there. Some businesses would lose parking spaces temporarily if Northern Pass is allowed to build underground lines along Main Street.

Northern Pass has sent letters to some Plymouth businesses but hasn’t had face-to-face discussions about how the project might affect them, said Samuel Johnson, lead project manager for Northern Pass.

"At this time, it’s a little premature only because the actual length of construction and the schedule, so meaning what season, whether we’re going to work at night, all of the alternatives that are possible as far as mitigation-type activities to lessen the impact to them have yet to be determined," he said.

Johnson said it would take an estimated three months for construction moving from south of the Baker River through downtown Plymouth and heading toward the next transition station in nearby Bridgewater. Some individual businesses could see nearby parking affected for only a couple days, he said.

Johnson said Northern Pass had discussions with Plymouth officials about using other streets.

A detour will be needed at some point because of construction directly at the roundabout downtown, according to Lynn Farrington, a licensed professional traffic operations engineer for Louis Berger, who is advising Northern Pass on traffic impacts.

She said project officials have been in discussion with state transportation officials. The project would need local approval to use local roads as a detour.

"So we are coming up with another option for this to detour Route 3 and Main Street on to I-93," Farrington said.

A Concord horse farm, which provided Public Service of New Hampshire (now Eversource) with an easement for a utility right-of-way, uses that area for horses to graze. Johnson said Northern Pass would work with the farm’s owner.

Some Saturday construction work also is expected.

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