I-93 expansion options, including a pedestrian bridge, to be discussed Wednesday

  • The red areas mark the roads and interchanges being studied for expansion and changes in Concord and Bow.

  • The I-93 entrance ramp at exit 14 near the Fort Eddy shopping area in Concord. A workshop on Wednesday will discuss “flipping the interchange” at Exit 14. Currently, I-93 goes over Loudon Road, creating a visual barrier on this major entranceway to the city. Many advocates say swapping that arrangement, putting I-93 under Loudon Road, would open up south Concord to development.  GEOFF FORESTER

  • Traffic looking west on Bridge Street looking down through the traffic lights to exit 14 on Interstate 93 on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • The northbound lanes of Interstate 93 is seen from Loudon Road in Concord on Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/24/2019 3:04:20 PM

A couple of new possibilities for the expansion of Interstate 93 through Concord will be up for discussion Wednesday night, including a pedestrian bridge over the Merrimack River and a flip-flop of highways at Exit 14.

“We’ve met with the city, people in Concord, have gotten input on what was on interest to them for the project,” said Don Lyford, project manager for New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

The DOT and Concord will hold the public workshop on these possibilities at the department headquarters at 7 Hazen Drive, Room 114, on Wednesday at 6 p.m. It is free and open to all.

The state is proposing to expand I-93 to three lanes in both directions over a five-mile stretch of highway and make major changes to Exits 12 through 15 as well as the Interstate 89 interchange in Bow. The work, which would cost at least $260 million and take a decade, won’t start until 2024 at the earliest, but even so it has already generated considerable discussion.

Many Concord officials want the plans tweaked to give downtown more access to the Merrimack River, among other things.

Lyford says a pedestrian bridge connecting the east and west sides of the river would help this concern but that letting people walk to the river from downtown would be extremely difficult because the highway is so close to the bank.

“We are looking at a potential pedestrian crossing ... but not looking at touching down between the interstate and the river. There’s not a lot of space there,” he said. Possible locations include two sites just south of Exit 14.

Concord, like many cities, developed its river as a transportation and industrial corridor rather than a recreational site, lining its western bank with roads and a railroad line as well as such hard-to-move structures as an electric substation. Thanks to environmental improvements since the 1970s, the Merrimack River is clean enough that people want to enjoy it, but a century of infrastructure is in the way.

Officials and other Concord boosters see the I-93 redesign as their best chance to fix this and have been pushing state transportation planners to give more thought to their wishes.

Wednesday’s workshop will discuss another possible change from proposals that have been released so far: what is called “flipping the interchange” at Exit 14.

Currently, I-93 goes over Loudon Road, creating a visual barrier on this major entranceway to the city. Many advocates say swapping that arrangement, putting I-93 under Loudon Road, would open up south Concord to development.

“We had briefly looked at that previously. ... Now that there’s more interest in that alternative, we need to know how long it would take to build it, what the impacts might be,” said Lyford. “The biggest impact would be that Loudon Road would have to be closed for some time during the work.”

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)


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