CONCORD — State officials signed off on a plan to bring the design of a new exit off Interstate 93 to the Federal Highway Administration Wednesday afternoon, but several business owners are still worried about what will happen to their land.
Exit 4A, which has been in the planning stages for decades, will go between Exits 4 and 5 — about a mile north of Exit 4 in Londonderry — and lead traffic east into Derry, running about 3.2 miles to Route 102. About a mile of roadway will be constructed, opening up development opportunities.
Overall, the project is expected to cost about $56.8 million. Expected to begin in 2020 and be completed by 2023, the project will require taking eight homes and two business properties, said project manager Keith Cota.
After a presentation by Cota, the Exit 4A Special Committee unanimously approved the proposed layout, and now plans to bring the project before federal highway officials for a decision. The committee is made up of Executive Councilor Russell Prescott, chairman; Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky; and former Executive Councilor David Wheeler.
More than a dozen attended the meeting, which took place at the state Department of Transportation office in Concord. Cota addressed many of the comments brought up at a public hearing on Dec. 5.
During the December public hearing, Thomas Cardon said the project lacks economic benefit to Derry and impacts Folsom Road by adding more lanes.
“The project purpose and need is two-fold,” Cota told the committee in response. “One is economic improvements and the second is reducing the traffic load through downtown Derry. ... It will allow the opportunity for the town of Derry to look at revitalization of the downtown area.”
Property owner Steve Trefethen at the December hearing was worried about a stormwater treatment area planned for undeveloped land he owns.
“We can reduce the size of the basin to minimize that impact to that parcel,” Cota said of Trefethen’s land.
After the meeting Wednesday, the owners of Royal T Car Wash on Folsom Road said they still have a lot of unanswered questions about a portion of their property that could potentially be taken. The future of a propane tank and vacuum cleaners out front is unknown.
“It limits the access because they are going to put a divider in the road,” said owner Brian Messina, who runs the business with his wife, Laura.
“Our concern is being able to function as a lucrative business,” said Brian Messina. “We’ve been there for eight years at least.”
The Salvation Army of Greater Derry building next door is set to be taken by eminent domain. Cota said the state will help the organization relocate if federal highway officials sign off on the design. The organization bought the property at 18 Folsom Road in October 2017 for $490,000.
Derry Town Administrator David Caron said after the meeting he’s glad to see the project moving toward federal approval, but understands the uneasiness of some home and business owners.
“It is a difficult position, particularly when the planning process takes so long and obviously the residents and property owners for the commercial businesses want to have their future settled as to what kind of taking is necessary and when will that will occur,” he said.