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Monday, April 23, 2012

With construction under way, final bridge design on deck for the Broad Street Parkway

NASHUA – This spring, concrete has been broken in the Tree Streets, the first visible milestone in the long anticipated – by opponents, dreaded – construction of the Broad Street Parkway.

Less tangible, but no less expensive or important, is the progress made on the project’s cornerstone, the bridge that will provide a second downtown crossing of the Nashua River.

The city’s Finance Committee and Board of Public Works last week approved a $977,863 contract for the final design of the Broad Street Parkway Bridge.

The design work will be done by Fay, Spofford and Thorndike, of Burlington, Mass. The firm in December signed a $1.5 million contract with the city for the final design of the roadway itself.

Once the money for design is spent, nearly $52 million would remain in the fund to build the cross-city, limited access roadway. Additional money has been spent for design, property acquisition and environmental studies.

Although $68.7 million has been approved for the parkway, the actual cost is likely to be about $64 million, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said.

Also last week, adjustments were made to two additional contracts related to the parkway.

An additional $45,000 was added to a contract for cleanup of the boiler house before demolition because of additional asbestos and petroleum found in the structure. The cleanup will be done by EQ Northeast of Wrentham, Mass.

The city will also pay $7,000 to Fremeau Appraisal Inc. of Manchester to appraise “surplus” property the city acquired for the parkway. After appraisal, the city will resell properties that didn’t need to be demolished due to changes in the parkway’s route.

Decades in the making and once envisioned as a divided four-lane highway, the project was whittled down over the years to its current configuration: a limited-access two-lane road with a bike path. The paring was partly because of cost, partly because the state widening of Route 3 eased much of the traffic and pollution problems that spurred the proposal for the parkway.

The road now is intended to provide an additional crossing over the Nashua River, ease traffic congestion on Main Street and offer better access to the Millyard industrial area.

City and business officials cite its importance to the future financial health and safety of the city by opening the Millyard to development and providing another downtown crossing over the Nashua River that could be crucial in an emergency.

Currently, only the Main Street Bridge crosses the Nashua River downtown. The other bridges over the river are at the juncture of Bridge and Canal streets east of downtown and, to the west, on the F.E. Everett Turnpike south of Exit 6.

Some residents, especially from neighborhoods most affected by the road, have questioned the parkway’s value, arguing the road would only serve to line developers’ pockets.

As designed, the parkway will connect Broad Street near the Exit 6 Department of Motor Vehicles substation with the Tree Streets downtown.

The road will pass through the Millyard and cross the Nashua River via the new bridge.

The project will be paid for partly through a $37.6 million city bond and partly through federal money.

An early taste of the Broad Street Parkway has begun with a $2 million street project in the city’s Tree Streets area.

The project on Pine and Palm streets includes replacement of some sewer and water lines, particularly on Palm Street. A temporary water main will serve residents until a new, larger water main is installed. Also, new sidewalks and pedestrian crosswalks will be installed.

Eventually, when the parkway is built, Pine Street will become one-way headed south and Palm Street will be one-way headed north.

Trucks and traffic will have easy access to downtown from the parkway.

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