Main Stree bridge project will be put out to bid this fall; city's share expected to be about $1M

LACONIA — City Manager Scott Myers announced yesterday that the governor and Executive Council have approved the agreement between the city and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) for the reconstruction of the Main Street Bridge over the Winnipesaukee River.

The agreement sets the cost of the project at $3,569,1324, of which the state, through the State Aid Bridge Program, will contribute $2,055,307. Another $800,000 will consist of Federal Highway Funds, leaving the city with the balance of $713,827, or a fifth of the total cost.

However, Myers explained that the state and city would share engineering costs of between $275,000 and $300,000, with the state bearing 80-percent and the city 20-percent of the costs. In addition, the city will bear the entire cost of widening the roadway on Beacon Street as it approaches the bridge to address the so-called "pinch point," where large trucks must either ride over the curb or straddle two lanes in crossing the bridge.

Myers anticipated that these expenses would increase the city's share of the total cost to approximately $925,000 while adding some $200,000 to the state's contribution. He said that the additional expenses would raise the total cost of the project to about $4.1-million. The 2013-2014 city budget includes an appropriation of $1-million for the project, which he anticipates will meet the city's costs.

The project will be put out to bid after October 1, the beginning of the federal fiscal year when the Federal Highway Funds become available. Construction would be scheduled to begin in the spring of 2014, proceed in four phases over two and be completed in 2015. Although downtown traffic will be re-routed in each of the four phases, the bridge itself will remain open throughout the construction.

Last month the City Council authorized spending up to $300,000 drawn from the Downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Fund on improvements to the plaza at the foot of Main Street in conjunction with the reconstruction of the bridge. This project, together with other similar improvements downtown, will likely be financed by the sale of general obligation bonds, which would be serviced by the annual revenue of at least $173,000 accruing to the TIF Fund.