Jun. 30—A new timeline for long-delayed construction of a $112 million Exit 4A off Interstate 93 in Londonderry has stirred a wave of calls to town officials from developers interested in plans for 200 acres of prime land nearby.
Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan announced a new schedule for the project, which was postponed in September after after a design-build concept came in $30 million over budget.
The plan now calls for traditional construction in three phases — a new exit off I-93 one mile north of Exit 4, an upgrade of Folsom Road in Derry and an expansion of Tsienneto Road in Derry, and upgrade of Route 102.
Construction on the first phase would begin in fall 2022, followed by the second phase in 2024 and the final piece in 2025-2026, state officials said.
"My hope is we can exceed this time schedule," Sheehan said. "It is a very aggressive schedule."
"This project has had its hiccups along the way. It's been a long time coming, but we are happy to see it spelled with this kind of detail," Town Manager Kevin Smith said Wednesday. "It's great to have that sense the state is in control, moving this project forward."
The first phase also will provide access to land owned by Pillsbury Realty Development LLC, which owns Woodmont Commons west of I-93.
"This looks really promising," Woodmont Commons executive Michael Kattenbach said of the state's presentation.
Smith said since the project was put back on track, his office has seen increased interest in the economic development spinoff from it.
"We're already seeing the impact, and it's going to be huge. Our office is getting requests almost weekly about the potential development of those 200 acres," Smith said.
Gatsas has questions
Executive Councilor Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, said he still has concerns about the project's affordability after the latest cost estimate came in more than $10 million higher than the last one.
"I want to know where the money is coming from. We now have $110 million, and the last one was $96 million. And we couldn't afford to do that one," Gatsas said.
Splitting the work into several phases over the state's 10-year highway program makes it affordable, Sheehan said.
Sheehan said the state also will have to acquire 100 properties over the next to years for rights-of-way along the project's 3.3-mile route.
The project will require $62 million for construction, $19 million for engineering, $16 million for properties, $4.5 million to address environmental impacts and $10 million for other costs.
The project already has permits from state and federal authorities for wetlands, water quality and shore land protection.
Executive Councilor Janet Stevens, R-Rye, said this section of I-93 remains one of the most dangerous, with hundreds of crashes every year, a quarter of which involve serious injuries.
Sheehan said that was why the state adopted an ambitious construction schedule.
"Safety is our primary concern and one of the key reasons we are working to advance the funding of this project as soon as possible," Sheehan said.