Public weighs in on latest I-293 interchange design changesBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader
June 14. 2018 9:36AM
MANCHESTER — An estimated 120 people attended an an informational meeting Wednesday night hosted by state transportation officials to discuss proposed design changes for the Amoskeag Traffic Circle and the Front Street interchanges on Interstate 293.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) presented drawings and fielded questions from the crowd at the meeting, held at Northwest Elementary School. The meeting included an overview presentation, followed by “one-on-one” interactions with staff engineers and environmental scientists.
State and local officials expressed support of the project at the outset of the meeting.
“I drive the road every day, and I see the accidents at Exits 6 and 7,” said Sen. Lou D’Allessandro, D-Manchester. “The project clearly has to be done. The dollars have to be appropriated and we need to get this done.”
“We’ve been meeting about this for about four years,” said Ward 12 Alderman Keith Hirschmann. “It’s great to get the alternatives honed down to the real product. It’s exciting, but expensive. The anticipation for it is great.”
Three major components of the project were discussed Wednesday night.
One component would add an additional lane in each direction between Exits 5 and 6. State officials are working with Manchester officials to minimize impacts to the Merrimack River, as well as save a billboard-laden historic mill building on the west side of the interstate. Officials are working to maintain the integrity of the building function, by allowing space for trucks to access the existing loading dock, and to allow fire trucks to maneuver along the sides of the building for emergency access.
The proposal will impact some parking and likely the existing billboard located on the side of the building.
Another component of the proposal involves relocating the Exit 7 interchange to the north, without a connection across Black Brook to Goffstown Road. State officials have received input from Goffstown stating the need for the connection failed to justify the cost and impacts on that community.
Front Street would be realigned to form a four-way signalized intersection opposite a new driveway to a nearby condominium complex. The interchange connector road would also provide access to Manchester Community College, and the relocated Exit 7 would also be able to accommodate any future connection to the Hackett Hill area.
Two options have been discussed for Exit 6. One — a single point urban interchange — involves running most ramps onto the interstate off a new bridge that would span the highway. The other — an offset diamond interchange — would locate many of the exit ramps away from the bridge to Front Street and Amoskeag Street. On Wednesday, officials said they were zeroing in on the single point urban interchange option.
Gas stations and businesses on the east side of Eddy Road, between the ramps and Planet Fitness, as well as a few other properties along Front Street, the gas station on Amoskeag Street and some additional properties will be impacted by the project, along with the mill building along the interstate.
Several residents raised concerns with the project.
“There’s already so many cars going through there,” said Dr. Linda DeLorey, whose home backs up to the Merrimack River along Front Street. “This is only going to make it worse. I absolutely love where I live. Every day, every season, a beautiful scene unfolds there. They have no idea what this is going to do to the environment there.”
The project is in the current 10-year plan with construction scheduled for 2024. Exit 7 will likely be built first to relieve traffic congestion during the construction of Exit 6.
Estimates for the Exit 6 reconstruction total $96.2 million; Exit 7 would be $55.8 million.
Information about the project can be found on the NHDOT web site at www.293planningstudy.com.