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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Broad Street Parkway plan to get $487k in funding

NASHUA – The $60.4 million Broad Street Parkway project has been OK’d for an additional $487,000 in federal money to add sidewalks to the cross-city roadway and to what would be a new bridge over the Nashua River, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., announced Tuesday.

The new sidewalks would connect with existing sidewalks in the Millyard, providing a link to an area heavily used by walkers, bicyclists and dog-walkers as the area links downtown neighborhoods with wooded Mine Falls Park.

“The city requested this federal funding to help offset cuts we were forced to make due to rising construction costs,” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said. “Thanks to Senator Shaheen, an important element of the Broad Street Parkway/Nashua River Bridge project will now be able to go forward, providing critical access for pedestrians across the Nashua River. This will go a long way to helping the Millyard district be an enjoyable place to walk.”

The grant will help change the look and feel of the parkway by providing things that couldn’t be justified spending local taxpayers’ dollars for, Lozeau said.

Six years ago, the parkway was scaled back from four to two lanes, and the preferred $60.4 million option is the less costly of the two alignments. The other carried a $68.1 million price tag.

The grant is part of the Fiscal Year 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill and expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama later this week, according to Shaheen.

“Investing in infrastructure will help create jobs and spur economic growth during this difficult economy,” Shaheen said in a prepared statement. “This project will help make Nashua a more pedestrian friendly city, and will help increase foot traffic to area businesses.”

Originally proposed as a way to ease downtown traffic and provide an alternate route downtown to Main Street, the parkway more recently has been heralded by proponents as key to opening the Millyard area to development.

The parkway will be paid through a combination of federal money and a $30 million bond that the Board of Aldermen approved last year. Additionally, the city has received and spent $14 million in federal money for design work and to acquire some properties in the parkway’s path.

Currently, the Bedford consulting firm Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin is reviewing environmental data. VHB is expected to complete its work soon and federal highway officials will decide in spring of 2010 whether an additional environmental study is needed.

The 1.8-mile, two-lane parkway would connect Broad Street near the Exit 6 Welcome Center to Pine and West Hollis streets downtown. Once completed, the project will greatly improve east-west mobility in Nashua, connecting the F.E. Everett Turnpike to downtown Nashua, the Millyard, and the Front/Franklin Street mill district.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashua telegraph.com.