Is it True that Selectmen Coutu and Morin Dealt for a New Road?

April 13, 2018

 

Hudson – Circumferential Highway Project Plans- Lowell Roar to Route 111…

by Len Lathrop and Sue Krzeminski

During the WSMN 1590 “Friday with the Fox” show on April 6, when asked about the NHDOT meeting last Wednesday in Concord, Selectmen’s Chairman Roger Coutu broke the news that an agreement is being talked about for a two-lane road from the end of the Sagamore Bridge over Lowell Road and ending up at Route 111. This roadway project would be part of the long-discussed Circumferential Highway that dates back to the ‘50s.

Last week, a Hudson delegation traveled to Concord to talk about the 10-year highway plan and traffic in Hudson. While it is still in conversational status, it appears the state would engineer the design and get all the permits needed while the Town of Hudson would build the road. Selectman Coutu mentioned a price tag of $50 million, which would be bonded for 30 years. Because it would be more cost effective than building a new bridge, the project would entail a surface road with traffic lights consisting of two lanes as well as breakdown lanes on both sides. Traffic on Lowell Road could access the new road.

Traffic congestion, especially on Lowell Road, has been a topic of discussion for multiple years, but a roadway like this would alleviate traffic back-ups from Wason onto the Sagamore Bridge.

Although this two-lane project is conjecture at this point, it could become a reality if the state includes it in its 10-year planning docket. This week Hudson Town Administrator Steve Malizia went to Concord to ask that the state add the project to its 10-year plan. Obviously, the people of Hudson would need to endorse this undertaking as well. Considering the significant bond required, will the voters of Hudson pass this highway project when they go to the polls in March?

Many residents are familiar with the often-debated plans for a Circumferential Highway, most of which has not yet been built. This bypass route around the city of Nashua would provide an alternate route for commuters to access the Everett Turnpike and U.S. Route 3. Currently, the only part that has been completed is the two-mile interchange road between Route 3, Daniel Webster Highway, and NH Route 3A.

This Circumferential Highway was proposed back in the ‘50s because of population growth. The highway is intended to provide an additional river crossing between Nashua and Manchester. Four bridges are available to cross the Merrimack River between Lowell, Mass., and Manchester, N.H. Anyone who needs to access Route 3 from the east side of the river has these four choices: the Tyngsboro Bridge providing access to Mass. Route 113; the Taylor Falls/Veterans Memorial Bridge going into Nashua; the Raymond Wiezcorek Drive/Manchester Airport Access bridge providing a connection between Route 3A and the Everett Turnpike in southern Bedford with an interchange connecting to US 3; and the Sagamore Bridge connecting the Everett Turnpike to 3A in Hudson with an intermediate exit at the Daniel Webster Highway to south Nashua.

Over the years, the Circumferential Highway has not been fully supported by all involved because of environmental and political concerns. According to the plans, the highway would go mostly through Hudson as well as sections of Litchfield and Merrimack, necessitating the seizure of homes and the filling in of wetlands. In 1993, an EPA report came up with an “intent to veto” the project, all but killing the full highway. Of particular concern has been the impact on Pennichuck Brook watershed, a series of ponds and creeks along the Nashua/Merrimack border. Despite a second study that has been going on since 1995, no action has occurred.

Today, the need for the entire Circumferential road as initially planned may be unnecessary as improvements have been made over the years. The part of the highway that has been built, including the Sagamore Bridge rebuild, has bypassed the worst traffic problem, allowing direct access to US 3 and the D.W. Highway retail district. Widening of Route 3A in Hudson has lessened the traffic congestion, too.