Prepare for road work - Route 106 and Route 3 Bypass to be improved this summer


LACONIA — This year and next, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation will make improvements to N.H. Route 106 between Laconia and Belmont, as well as the entire length of U.S. Route 3 Bypass.

Outlining the projects for the City Council this week, Tobey Reynolds of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation said that work on N.H. Route 106 will consist of reclaiming and overlaying the pavement from South Main Street in Laconia to Perkins Road in Belmont as well as improving its intersection with Seavey Road.

The improvements at the intersection of N.H. Route 106 and Seavey Road include widening the highway to provide turning lanes for both north- and southbound traffic entering Seavey Road and widening Seavey Road from 26 feet to 40 feet, as well as reconfiguring the junction for vehicles turning onto Route 106 to accommodate school buses and box trucks.

Reynolds described the work on the bypass as "pavement preservation" that will stretch "from end to end" and include the off and on ramps at the junctions with N.H. Route 106 and N.H. Route 107, where the bridges will also undergo rehabilitation. The roadway will receive a three-quarter-inch shim and overlay while an inch of pavement will be removed and replaced on the ramps. Work on the bridge that carries the bypass over N.H. Route 11A in Gilford, which is on the department's Red List, will include replacing the deck. Stretches of guardrail along the bypass will also be replaced.

Reynolds said work on the ramps will be undertaken at night when traffic will be detoured.There will be no work three days before and one day after Laconia Motorcycle Week and NASCAR events at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and work will be scheduled around the Timberman Triathlon and concerts at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion.

Work on the bypass is scheduled to begin in June and be complete by September this year, while the bridge work and rehabilitation of N.H. Route 106 will extend through the summer of 2017. The total cost of the projects is $9.6 million, of which $7 million will be spent on N.H. Route 106 and the bridges, $2.1 million on the bypass and $500,000 on Seavey Road.

This map shows the planned work on Route 106 in orange, the Route 3 Bypass in green, and where ramps and bridges will be improved. The work will run from June to September. (Courtesy graphic)

This map shows the planned work on Route 106 in orange, the Route 3 Bypass in green, and where ramps and bridges will be improved. The work will run from June to September. (Courtesy graphic)

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City seeks partner to fix parking garage, OKs $150,000 for repairs


LACONIA — The City Council this week agreed to proceed with designing and engineering the structural repairs and improvements to the downtown parking garage at a cost of $150,000, without an assurance that the owner of the private section of the garage will bear the cost of repairing its share of the facility.

The ramps and north end of the second and third levels, including the northernmost stairwell, are owned by the city. The ground floor of the garage, except for the ramps, and the south end of the second and third levels, including the southernmost stairwell, along with seven commercial units on the ground level, are privately owned.

City officials have expressed their willingness to repair, even improve, the publicly owned section of the garage "in cooperation with a willing partner."

But, as yet, Downtown Crossing LLC, the current owner, and Genesis Behavioral Health, the prospective buyer, of the private portion of the garage have yet to reach an arrangement that would enable one or the other to bear the cost of repairing that section of the facility, which is estimated to be $290,000. City Manager Scott Myers projected the cost of repairing and improving the entire garage, including adding an elevator, at about $2.9 million.

"So we're spending $150,000 without knowing if the project will come to fruition?" asked Mayor Ed Engler.

If Downtown Crossing LLC and Genesis come to agreement and the property is sold, Genesis seeks to begin converting the space currently leased to the Grace Capital Church to house its administrative offices and clinical services in October. The acquisition and conversion of the property would be financed by a $5.5 million bond issued by the New Hampshire Health and Educational Facilities Authority. Maggie Pritchard, executive director of Genesis, explained that because the agency will be paying a higher rate of interest on the borrowing than the funds will earn on deposit, the project should be completed as soon as possible.

But, before work could begin on the privately owned section of the facility, some $600,000 worth of repairs to the city-owned section must be completed, which would require work to begin in July.

Bob Durfee of Dubois & King Inc. said that design and engineering would enable the city to put the project out to bid by April 1 in anticipation of starting work in July. The cost of designing and engineering the repairs to the portion of the garage owned by the city is $120,000 while the balance would apply to the privately owned share of the facility together with the planning required to install an elevator.

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Laconia considers requests to lease space to businesses at Weirs dock

LACONIA — Faced with two inquiries about leasing space on the municipal dock at The Weirs to operate marine enterprises, which is prohibited by city ordinance, the City Council this week referred the issue to its Government Operations and Ordinances Committee.

City Manager Scott Myers characterized the inquiries "more than tire kicking" and said one of the businesses asked about leasing a significant share of the dock to provide a secure area for managing passengers and storing equipment.

The ordinance stipulates that "operators of boats engaged in commercial enterprise shall not moor such boats at any public wharf" then allows two exceptions, one for the United States mail boat and another for the Queen of Winnipesaukee.

Councilor David Bownes (Ward 2) suggested taking advantage of the opportunity to attract new offerings for tourists by lifting the prohibition.

The Government Operations and Ordinances Committee will consider the issue when it meets on Monday, March 3, at 6 p.m., before the next regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council.

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