HUDSON — At their first meeting of the year Tuesday night, Hudson selectmen decided not to include a warrant article this year to fund the construction of a new major roadway in town.
The town had hoped to offset the cost of the $45 million project to build a new major roadway connecting Sagamore Bridge to Route 111 with federal grant worth up to $25 million.
“If we were to continue pursuing this, it would be a $45 million article,” said Roger Coutu, board of selectmen chairman.
The meeting Tuesday was a pre-scheduled bond hearing because the project was intended to be a bonded warrant article.
Officials learned Hudson was not selected for the grant last month, when the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $1.5 billion in BUILD Transportation Grants. After a public hearing on Tuesday, selectmen voted unanimously not to include a town warrant for the project.
Hudson Boulevard is a proposed first section of the “circumferential highway” — a project that’s been discussed in some form for over 50 years.
It has been broken into three phases.
Phase two of the highway would connect Route 111 to Route 102. The third and final phase would connect Route 102 to a new exit off Route 3 after crossing the Merrimack River.
If the other two sections are ever to be constructed, it would likely have to be financed by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, according to Coutu. But those projects would come in the future.
It was hoped the first phase would solve some of the heavy traffic issues that drivers experience during rush hours in the area of Lowell Road, particularly. As a result, motorists are turning increasingly to back roads like Wason Road, which were not intended to be heavily trafficked areas.
“It’s critical, because Lowell Road and the roads in the area are facing … failure,” Town Administrator Steve Malizia said.
Many of the motorists are commuting to Nashua, Windham and Massachusetts for work, he said.
The plan was to build one lane, constructed in accordance with DOT standards so that it could be widened potentially to two lanes at some point in the future.
“Regardless of what we do tonight, there still exists a serious traffic problem in the town of Hudson,” Coutu said. “And it’s only going to get worse.”
Former New Hampshire House Speaker and current Commissioner of Agriculture Shawn Jasper spoke at the public hearing as a resident of Hudson.
Jasper said the idea for the circumferential highway was first brought up for consideration in 1959, the year Jasper was born.
“So, this project is as old as me,” Jasper said.
He called the idea of a $45 million warrant article “extremely expensive” and “highly unfair” for the property taxpayers of Hudson, especially since many of the motorists using the new roadway would be from out of town.
Malizia said such a bond would have added about $1.12 per $1,000 of assessed value to the current tax rate in the first year of the 30-year bond, and decrease gradually over the years.
Several other residents spoke in opposition to a warrant article for a $45 million bond.
During the hearing, Jasper suggested the town consider building the roadway through a private public partnership and a toll road.
Malizia said they have not looked into that at this point, but they are considering forming a citizen committee to brainstorm other ideas for improving traffic.
He said the board of selectmen can also re-apply for the BUILD grant if it wants to.