---- — With warmer weather just around the corner, construction is ramping up again on Interstate 93.
That will be bad news for drivers this summer. But ultimately, everyone will benefit from a expanded, safer highway with improved traffic flow.
This construction season should see about $162 million worth of work done, a significant fraction of the $800 million project to widen I-93 in Southern New Hampshire. The bulk of the work will be done between Exit 5 in Londonderry and Exit 1 in Salem.
“You’re going to see changes constantly out there,” Jay Levine, New Hampshire Department of Transportation I-93 coordinating supervisor, told reporter John Toole.
While there are some construction crews already out on the highway, work is scheduled to begin in earnest in April and May, depending on the conditions caused by melting snow and runoff.
Work on the Exit 5 interchange and Route 28 improvements — a $37.3 million piece of the total project — will resume. This summer, expect to see northbound traffic shifted from its temporary, westward jog back to the newly reconstructed main roadbed.
“Our goal is to get traffic back on the main line,” Levine said.
Work in the Exit 5 area is expected to be completed next year.
The end won’t come as quickly for the rest of the project. Work is expected to continue for seven more years.
Besides the $162 million in projects that DOT said are “in progress,” another $151 million worth of projects are completed. A $39 million northbound project at Exit 3 is expected to be awarded this year. There is $250 million in work to come from next year through 2020.
In addition to the Exit 5 work, there are four other projects in progress for this summer.
A $32.7 million highway widening and bridge project at Exit 1 in Salem is slated for completion this year.
A $43.6 million project at Exit 2 in Salem involving interchange reconstruction, bridge and ramp work will continue this year and run through 2015.
A $35.1 million southbound widening project at Exit 3 in Windham will include relocation of a section of Route 111. Work is expected to be done in 2016.
A $12.1 million bridge replacement project at Exit 3 is due to be completed this year.
Levine cautions that drivers will need to remain alert and vigilant.
“Be courteous, let people merge in front of you, watch your speed,” he said. “There are a lot of interesting things on the side of the highway, but keep your eyes on the road.”
Above all, avoid distractions such as texting, which as we all know, is illegal while driving in New Hampshire.
The I-93 expansion is certainly an inconvenience for drivers and will remain so for the next few years. But it is necessary and important work. I-93 before the expansion was burdened with traffic well beyond its design capacity. That made the highway extremely dangerous and the site of far too many accidents.
Once this project is complete, drivers will have a highway that is less congested, faster, and above all, safer to use.