Rochester clearcutting

Clearcutting is taking place south of the Rochester tolls on the Spaulding Turnpike. Plans are to put in a sound barrier.

Some Rochester residents are raising noise concerns as clearcutting along the Spaulding Turnpike in the past week has exposed numerous homes to the highway.

State officials are planning a conversion to all-electronic tolling on the Spaulding Turnpike in Rochester and Dover. For the past week, crews from R.S. Audley Construction in Bow and its subcontractor, John Brown & Sons of Weare, have been preparing a section of land south of the existing Rochester toll to build a soundwall.

Shirley Vose lives on North Fuchsia Drive, where trees were taken down just feet from her home. She is disappointed with the clearcutting because she feels the neighborhood was not given proper notice of the state’s plans.

“Well, they left a note on my door, but I didn’t know they were taking all the trees,” Vose said. “Who wants to get up and look at a wall instead of trees?”

Vose has been living in the neighborhood for three years.

Dee Huckins lives nearby. She reached out to Gov. Chris Sununu’s office when the work started, but it was too little, too late.

“It seems like they already had their minds made up,” Huckins said. “This was sad because I enjoy the wildlife.”

Huckins had a pumpkin on an outside table on her back porch for the squirrels to eat. She has been living in the neighborhood for six years and is trying to look at the bright side of the tree removal, saying maybe now there will be more sunlight.

One resident, who rents a home on North Fuchsia Drive and did not want to be named, said people should not be surprised if they knew where their property line is. She has been watching the crews from her window and described the workers as respectful.

An employee at the office for Briar Ridge Estates confirmed Monday that the land where the clearcutting is taking place is state property.

Eileen Meaney, chief communications officer for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, confirmed that Tuesday.

“All clearing is within the state’s Right-of-Way. Most of the clearing is within 10 to 15 feet of the state’s property line,” Meaney said.

According to the state’s plans, there will be two soundwalls on the eastern side of the roadway, and the toll’s proposed gantry location is between the soundwalls, just north of where the existing tolls are.

The soundwalls will cost $7 million. The all-electronic tolling project in Rochester and Dover will cost $23.3 million, Meaney said.

The southern soundwall will be 3,750 feet long with a height range of 10 to 14 feet. A total of 121 dwellings will be shielded.

The northern soundwall will be 2,400 feet long with a height range of 10 to 17 feet. A total of 108 dwellings will benefit, according to information provided by state officials during a virtual public information session in February.

Soundwalls were built in Dover as part of the Spaulding Turnpike widening project that added additional lanes to the heavily used roadway.

There were 15,745,513 tolls paid at the Dover location in 2019, according to DOT officials.

The all-electronic tolls in Rochester and Dover will be the first in the state. The Hampton and Hooksett plazas have open-road tolling lanes that allow motorists with E-ZPass to pay electronically at highways speeds, but they still have traditional toll booths.

Rochester and Dover’s all-electronic tolls are expected to become fully operational this fall.

The Spaulding Turnpike is a section of Route 16, the main road connecting the Seacoast with the Lakes Region and White Mountains.