Route 28 upgrade aims to improve safety on Barnstead roads

By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN

BARNSTEAD — On Monday, a state-appointed commission is poised to approve the widening and reconstruction of Route 28 at its intersection with North Road and North Barnstead Road, capping off a road improvement push conceived nearly a decade ago.
The original road dates back to around 1935, and the state once tried to rebuild it as a single project, according to Don Lyford, manager of the road job.
In the state's 10-year highway plan, funding was not available eight years ago to reconstruct the road all the way to the Alton traffic circle, Lyford said.
Instead, crews have rebuilt legs of the road. This newest project carries a $4 million price tag.
To the south of this leg is another construction job that started this year, at the intersection of Route 28 and Peacham Road/White Oak Road, near Lower Suncook Lake. That leg will cost $3.3 million, and is due for completion in fall 2018, the state reports.
Reconstruction of the intersection of Route 28 with North Road and North Barnstead Road will begin 3,400 feet south of North Road and North Barnstead Road and extend north approximately 6,000 feet. Improvements to North Barnstead Road will extend approximately 200 feet east of Route 28, and the improvements to North Road will extend approximately 550 feet west of Route 28, the state reported.
In a piecemeal approach, the state has leapfrogged from one section of road to the next, concentrating on intersections.
"We're trying to include as much roadway in these intersection projects as is reasonable," Lyford said.
If the commission gives its blessing, the road project could go out to advertisement in the fall of 2018.
At a March 16, 2016, public information meeting, Lyford said the rebuilt section of Route 28 would look similar to Route 28 to the south, citing improvements to Route 28 and the Stockbridge Corner Road intersection.
The proposed improvements will include widening the roadway to provide 12-foot lanes and 4-foot shoulders, according to notes from that meeting. Beginning at the Route 28 intersection with North Road and North Barnstead Road, "the horizontal and vertical alignments will be flattened to better accommodate the 50 mph posted speed limit and improve the intersection sight distances from the side roads," the state reported.
At a Sept. 20 public hearing, staff noted that questions about changing the speed limit — either to increase or decrease it from 50 mph — would not be answered until the road is rebuilt.
"The posted speed limit may be reduced if it's determined through an engineering and traffic investigation that the current posted speed limit is greater than what is reasonable and safe for the conditions," the state reported.
At 9 a.m. Monday, April 17, the New Hampshire Transportation Department will host a meeting for the commission to discuss and make a decision about the road project. The meeting, in Room 112/113, 7 Hazen Drive, Concord, is open to the public but does not include a time for public input.
Monday's meeting is a gathering of the commission to revisit any concerns raised at the September public hearing.
If approved, the "Barnstead 14121 project" — as this leg at the North Barnstead Road and North Road intersection is called — would complete the work envisioned eight years ago, Lyford said.
"This is the last out of that original 10-year plan," he said.
For more information about the road project, visit https://www.nh.gov/dot/documents/20170417-barnstead.pdf.

Miscalcuation

4-14 T-Bones crash

No one was hurt in a crash in front of T-Bones on Laconia's Union Avenue on Friday afternoon. The driver of the Nissan sedan said that she was driving southbound when she was struck by a vehicle attempting to pull out of the popular eatery. The impact caused her vehicle to turn to the right, and her momentum carried the up onto the landscaping in front of the restaurant.(Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)

Buying time - Complex approval process forces Colonial Theatre project loan repayment delay

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Belknap Economic Development Council is seeking a delay in the repayment of a $1.4 million loan it received from the city for the purchase of the Colonial Theatre.
The request will come before the City Council when it meets on April 24 and is the result of a complex approval process for federal income tax credits according to Mayor Ed Engler, who told council members Monday night that the delay does not mean that the project is in trouble.
He said that the BEDC, which Is currently paying the city $4,000 a month on the loan, is looking at repaying the loan as early as June 1 but no later than Aug. 31. The loan closing had originally been scheduled for April 30.
Engler said the BEDC already has a buyer lined up for $2.5 million of the tax credits for the $14 million project, but state and federal approvals are still needed. City Manager Scott Myers said that paperwork was filed with the state on Monday, where it will face a 30-day review and comment period before moving on to the federal government.
Engler praised state officials for working closely with the BEDC on the application process, noting that documentation required for the historic structure was extremely extensive, down to the color of the paint and the original color scheme.
"The state was very helpful," said Engler.
He also said that bids have been received on the project, and, after review by Bonnette, Page & Stone, general contractor and project engineer, the low bid in each area significantly exceeded estimates.
"Significant choices are going to have to be made," said Engler, who said that cash flow projections for the project have to make sense and that the project is entering a "value engineering phase" in order to reduce costs without sacrificing the historic integrity of the project.
Myers said that cost savings could be realized in a number of areas where bid specifications were at premium level, including the sound system, lighting and stage rigging, which were designed to Broadway standards.
Work on the project is slated to start the day after the closing on the loan. The city is lending the BEDC $3 million for the next phase of the project and will be the prime tenant for the property for several years after the restoration is completed.
Ward 5 Councilor Bob Hamel observed that the city only has "one opportunity to do it right" and Engler said that the final decisions will rest with the BEDC, as it owns the property.

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