DERRY — It was another opportunity to present information on a big project that will affect travel in Derry and Londonderry.
The New Hampshire Department of Transportation hosted a second joint public officials and public information meeting last Wednesday night at West Running Brook Middle School to seek additional public input on the I-93 Exit 4A interchange project and to offer information on the plan’s progress so far.
The new interchange will be located between the existing exits 4 and 5 in Londonderry. The purpose of the project is to relieve traffic delays and congestion along Route 102 through Derry and to allow for regional economic development.
The purpose of this meeting was to also present citizens and public officials with updated information regarding the proposed project and to solicit public input in order to ensure that project decisions meet public transportation needs community goals, and protect and enhance the environment.
The Exit 4A plan has a long history, dating back decades and often a controversial topic among those either for or against the project.
Back in December 2015, Derry Town Council voted to enter into a three-party agreement with Londonderry and NHDOT to move forward with the project. Both towns are committed to spending $5 million each for Exit 4A.
The project is included in the state’s approved 10-year plan with a price tag of approximately $56 million.
Chris Bean, consulting project manager from Fuss and O’Neill, said through the years, previous study data and information became outdated with more updated studies underway to handle changing conditions like traffic and environmental impacts.
After five alternative routes were considered, an alternative “A” is now the top choice, officials say.
That alternative involves a new diamond interchange on I-93 in Londonderry, approximately one mile north of Exit 4. A one-mile connector would be built from that interchange across to Folsom Road, near the intersection of High Street and Madden Road in Derry. Folsom and Tsienneto roads would get improvements and upgrades across to where Exit 4A would end at Tsienneto and Route 102.
Alternative A is three miles in length from Route 93 to the eventual connection to Route 102 from Tsienneto Road. The work will be completed in three phases.
Some properties, both residential and business, will be affected by the work, Bean said.
The plan is all part of a goal to improve the traffic flow coming off the interstate through Derry and to “promote economic vitality in the Derry/Londonderry area,” Bean said, adding right now there is so much traffic coming through that it often inhibits pedestrian appeal and business access in the downtown area.
As part of the Exit 4A project, an underpass is included in the design to provide a safe crossing as Derry’s trail system continues on toward an eventual connection to north Londonderry trails.
Derry Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores, also a longtime state representative, said she remembered when the Exit 4A plan got its start with early legislation in Concord and a goal of making the project a reality someday.
“It took 34 years,” she said.
Some voiced concerns about traffic, cost and other detriments to the area.
But state officials said if nothing is done, it will get worse.
“Congestion is going to happen if we do nothing over the next 20 years without improvements,” NHDOT official Keith Cota said.
Environmental impact study work is expected to be done in September and a 45-day public comment period will follow with a public hearing to be held.
Construction could begin in late 2019 or 2020 and Exit 4A could be completed in 2022.
For information on the Exit 4A project visit i93exit4a.com. All are invited to provide feedback and thoughts on the project.
Copyright 2018 Eagle-Tribune