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Concord City Council votes to tear down, replace Sewalls Falls Bridge

Last modified: 2/12/2013 3:37:53 PM
After serving as a path across the Merrimack River for nearly 100 years, the Sewalls Falls Bridge will be coming down. The Concord City Council voted unanimously last night to tear down and replace the aging steel bridge in East Concord.

“I think the time has come to now move along,” said at-large Councilor Steve Shurtleff, who has long advocated to preserve the bridge.

“It’s unfair to the people in the area that use that bridge. We need a new bridge. It’s a safety hazard.”

But the bridge could be here to stay for at least a few more years; the state Department of Transportation’s current capital plan includes nearly $15.2 million for the project in 2014 and 2015.

The city council voted in 2006 to rehabilitate the bridge and build a new, one-lane bridge alongside it. But last August, after a new study revealed the bridge was in worse condition than expected, the council voted to again review about a dozen options.

Last night, City Engineer Ed Roberge asked the council to decide between two options: remove and replace the bridge or continue with the 2006 plan.

Rehabilitating the bridge and building a new one would have cost more than previously expected, Roberge said, and maintaining the existing bridge would have long-term costs.

Ward 3 Councilor Jan McClure said she supported replacing the bridge, but had heard from residents who feared a new bridge would “create a superhighway into what is a residential neighborhood right now.”

The bridge replacement will require closing the bridge during construction.

Door-to-door sales

Door-to-door solicitors now must wear identification badges when making sales calls in Concord.

The city council last night voted to change its ordinance for door-to-door sales, requiring monthly registration and limiting sales to between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. The city can require a fee to cover costs for the city-issued identification badges, according to the ordinance.

In November, the council had referred the issue to further study after the city’s attorneys recommended changing the ordinance to require monthly registration instead of weekly registration for door-to-door salesmen. That change had come in response to a letter from Utah-based Pinnacle Security, threatening legal action against the city for its time restrictions and registration requirements.

Future streets

The City Council last night approved a number of future street maps, outlining where streets could be constructed if development occurs.

The streets would be added years from now – if at all – but the measure prevents construction within their path.

The potential plans include extending Old Suncook Road south from Manchester Street to Garvins Falls Road and extending Whitney Road to Sewalls Falls Road in East Concord. (The Whitney Road extension would pass through property in East Concord owned by the Monitor.)

The council tabled the proposed extention of Storrs Street from Theatre Street south to Langdon Avenue after a property owner in the area expressed concern.

Arnold Cohen said his property on Gas Street would be eliminated by the extension of Storrs Street; the planned street passes through the existing building on the site.

“But I won’t have any rights to rebuild or do anything with it, and I don’t think that that’s fair, I really don’t,” he said.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)


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