Bow officials: I-93 plan would disrupt growth

Monitor staff
Published: 12/20/2018 4:40:57 PM

Officials in Bow are calling for the state Department of Transportation to hit the brakes on its plan to redesign the Exit 1 area of Interstate 89 as part of its I-93 widening plan.

The town’s main concern is the area known as Bow Mills right off of Exit 1, which voters decided to rezone for mixed use in 2017. This area would undergo major changes under the DOT’s current plan, including the addition of multiple traffic lights and a bypass to access Route 3A.

“As designed, the latest proposed highway layout would disrupt, if not destroy, the planned development for that area,” Bow Town Manager David Stack wrote in a letter to the DOT’s director of project development.

The land was previously under rural zoning and allowed only single-family homes. The area’s new zoning opens the door for multifamily housing and is designed to “attract and retain millennials by permitting a mixture of uses in a more urban environment,” Stack wrote.

The town outlined four additional aspects of the project they took issue with: the impact on the Route 3A business corridor, the effect of increased traffic on local roads, a lack of sound barriers for planned ramps in close proximity to residential areas, and the absence of any photo simulations of what the finished highway will look like to abutting property owners.

The state wants to redesign the I-93 and I-89 junction to improve traffic flow as part of the I-93 widening project. The current project involves installing new roads in the Bow Mills area that will carry southbound traffic on I-89 trying to reach Route 3A. The continuation of I-89 south to Route 3A would be removed to eliminate weaving issues at the interchange.

The Route 3A corridor is important to Bow’s tax base as it houses several businesses, including the Grappone auto dealerships and the Exel liquor warehouse. Town officials in Bow worry that eliminating direct access from I-89 southbound to Route 3A will have a negative effect on those businesses and others.

The redesign as planned will “put these businesses at a significant disadvantage,” Stack wrote in calling for the Department of Transportation to do an evaluation of business impact.

A special legislative committee overseeing the I-93 widening project, which reaches all the way to the I-393 interchange at Exit 15, collected testimony from the public, as well as town and city officials at a public forum in November.

If the committee approves the design by project manager McFarland-Johnson of Concord, it can move to a final design phase, which is needed before the $268 million project is funded through the state’s 10-year highway plan.

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