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Air Rail Highway Bike/Ped Public Transit

Aerial photo of General Sullivan Bridge

How will the roadway system constraints - such as the 2-lane capacity limit of the Scammell Bridge and US 4 - be accounted for in the study? (Updated 4/17/08)
Future travel demand projections will reflect roadway system capacity constraints within the study area such as US 4. The Seacoast regional travel demand model distributes and assigns traffic to the roadway network based in part on these capacity constraints, in conjunction with changes in land use, the origins and destinations of traffic, and the travel characteristics of Seacoast area residents, employees and visitors. The travel demand model has been updated to include the new census data, the collection of new traffic counts, a new survey of Seacoast area residents, employee and visitor travel characteristics, and an updating of study area roadway capacities. The future (2025) study area traffic projections reflect these updates, including the impact of the roadway system's capacity constraints. The impact of future traffic operations on these facilities - such as US Route 4 – has been analyzed as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under both the No Build and various Build Alternatives.

To what degree will the proposed improvements to the Little Bay Bridges and Turnpike affect the properties of Dover Road residents and others? (Updated 5/6/09)
During the development of the Preferred Alternative, public meetings were held and public input received to formulate the Alternative. The Department has strived to balance the various public benefits with the environmental issues and impacts to the abutting properties. In addition to meeting the Project Purpose and Need, the chosen Alternative needs to be practicable, affordable, permittable, constructible, and supported by the community.  On September 21, 2006, a formal Public Hearing was held to gain approval for the Preferred Alternative.  On August 22, 2007, approval from the Special Committee was received for the layout of the project.  The general nature and limits of impacts to private properties are shown on the Selected Alternative.  The project’s final design will refine the design to further minimize property impacts to the extent practicable while still meeting the project’s purpose and need.

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Have noise impacts been addressed? (Updated 4/17/08)
Yes. Sound barriers are proposed along both sides of the Turnpike from Hilton Park north to approximately 2,000 feet beyond the Dover toll plaza. Structure type and appearance of the barriers have yet to be determined.

Will potential noise impacts to study area residents and businesses resulting from recommended study improvements be assessed and mitigated? (Updated 5/6/09)
Yes, noise impacts under the Build (infrastructure improvement alternatives) conditions were analyzed as part of the EIS.  This analysis deemed four (4) segments of noise walls on the Dover side of the channel exceed a 66-decibel threshold or exceed the no-build condition by 15-decibels.  The Department will conduct meetings with the neighborhoods adjacent to the soundwalls to determine if the neighborhoods support the construction of a soundwall.

How can residents and interested parties stay informed on the project and be notified of future public meetings? (Updated 5/6/09)
The project website contains pertinent project information, including current project status, meeting notes, schedule of upcoming public meetings and contact information. A feedback form and project mailing list subscription is also available to those desiring to offer comments or receive notices via the internet. Additionally, one can contact Keith A. Cota, P.E., Chief Project Manager, directly at the NHDOT (603-271-6675) and request subscription to the project mailing list and receive notices of upcoming public meetings. The abutting property owners within the project limits receive notice of the Public Informational Meetings as they are scheduled.

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Why is the project's timeline so long? Why can't construction start sooner than 2010? Why isn't stronger consideration given to advance the project's schedule considering this is a major evacuation route for an incident at the nuclear power plant or other natural or man-made disaster in the seacoast area? Can something be done in the interim to alleviate some of the congestion and safety problems evident in the area? (Updated 5/6/09)
Prior to undertaking construction to remedy the problems in vicinity of the Little Bay Bridges, engineering and environmental evaluations (completed within the framework of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)) and the final engineering design must be completed and proper approvals and permits received. For a project of this magnitude in an area of high sensitivity, there are numerous environmental, transportation and property related concerns that must be fully evaluated that typically takes a fair amount of time to resolve.  The final engineering design was started in 2009 and will take approximately 5 years to complete the designs for the entire project.  The Department is planning on utilizing several construction contracts to construct the entire project and will pursue the project construction schedule as aggressively as possible. A schedule of the various phases with targeted timeframes is included on the project's website.

In order to alleviate some of the problems in vicinity of the Little Bay Bridges in the near term, the Department has worked with the Town of Newington to construct an interim project at Exit 4 and 4N to improve safety and traffic flow in that area. As part of that project, improvements to the on and off ramps at Nimble Hill Road and at Shattuck Way, the construction of a two-way connection beneath the Turnpike with the extension of Shattuck Way intersecting Nimble Hill Road, and the elimination of the southbound median turnaround were constructed in 2006.  In Dover, short-term improvements were completed to the Exit 6W deceleration lane (completed in June 2005) and are planned for the Exit 6 southbound on-ramp merge condition (completed in summer 2008) to improve safety and traffic operations in the Exit 6 area. These projects are intermediate steps toward improving safety and lessening frustration in the study area prior to the ultimate improvement being constructed.

The so called “Stimulus” funding that was appropriated to the Department was considered for this project.  However, the final engineering design was started in January 2009 which didn’t provide sufficient time to develop construction plans, acquire the necessary property and address utility relocations within the timeframe required within the stipulated regulations.  The utilization of additional “Stimulus” funding should it become available will be evaluated for use on this project.

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Will the "old" General Sullivan Bridge be taken down as part of the project? (Updated 5/6/09)
No. While the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has expressed an interest to remove the General Sullivan Bridge (GSB) since it no longer functions in the manner originally intended and is an obstruction to navigation within the channel, it has been determined that the GSB will be rehabilitated to serve pedestrians, bicyclists and recreational use. The NH Division of Historic Resources has emphasized that the General Sullivan Bridge is a highly rated and valued historic resource potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It is the second highest rated historic bridge in the state's historic bridge inventory valued for its association with the development of the regional transportation network; association with well-known and respected bridge designers (Fay, Spofford & Thorndike); and embodiment of the distinctive characteristics of multi-span through truss bridges over navigable waterways. Various alternatives for rehabilitation (recreational bike/pedestrian use, passenger vehicle use, emergency use, and convey legal loads) have been investigated along with removal and replacement options to identify a cost-effective, feasible, and prudent solution for the General Sullivan Bridge.  Based on the evaluation of alternatives, and in light of the GSB’s historic resource, the Selected Alternative includes rehabilitation of the GSB for pedestrian, bicyclist and recreational uses and will be designed during final design.

Why is the General Sullivan Bridge (GSB) recommended for rehabilitation, as opposed to removing the bridge and providing a multi-use path attached to the rehabilitated and widened Little Bay Bridges? (Updated 4/17/08)
The GSB is a significant historic bridge and as such, is protected under federal law. It provides an important systematic connection for pedestrians and bicyclists, and is used for recreational activities. The net project cost for rehabilitation is less than $10M or approximately 5 percent of the overall project cost. Rehabilitation and reuse of the GSB is supported by the FHWA, the NH Division of Historic Resources, the Strafford Regional Planning Commission, the Dover City Council and the Newington-Dover Advisory Task Force.

Will this project maintain the bicycle connection across Little Bay? (Updated 4/17/08)
Yes, the Selected Alternative includes the rehabilitation of the General Sullivan Bridge (GSB) to a six-ton loading capacity to continue to function as a pedestrian/bicycle/recreational facility. During final design, the Department will be evaluating opportunities and alternatives to maintain pedestrian and bicycle access across Little Bay during construction, as there may be times when access may not be feasible due to construction operations.

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Will the project take into account the growth that is anticipated to occur in the seacoast area and points north over the next 10, 20 years, and widen the bridges and the turnpike accordingly to adequately handle the projected traffic? (Updated 4/17/08)
The Seacoast travel demand model has been updated in conjunction with the Little Bay Bridge project to forecast future traffic volumes. The model takes into account changing land use and travel patterns in the region. The model also establishes a more accurate calibration of transportation mode choices specific to the Seacoast area to help identify possible alternative transportation choices. The project has used the model information to forecast projected traffic volumes (2025) along the many sectors of the corridor and has designed the various components accordingly.

Will this project address the limited sight distance over the existing bridges created by the sharp vertical curvature of the riding surface? (Updated 4/17/08)
The existing profile of the Little Bay Bridges (LBB) corresponds to a 60 mph design speed and reflects the 3.5 percent grades on the bridges.  Driver sight distance associated with 60 mph is not a safety deficiency, in contrast to the narrow shoulders (2’-0” to 2’-3”) on the existing bridges which are safety deficiencies.  The 60 mph design speed is 10 mph greater than the 50 mph posted speed limit for the bridges and the Exit 1 through Exit 6 study area.  The 50 mph posted speed limit is appropriate for the study area; this area is a zone of transition where abutting land use is developed, interchange spacing is relatively close, and there are relatively high volumes of traffic entering and exiting the Turnpike.  Under these conditions, drivers expect reduced speeds, similar to comparable sections of urban roadways such as I-93 in Manchester and the F.E. Everett Turnpike in Nashua.

The Selected Alternative maintains the 60 mph design speed profile, widens and rehabilitates the LBB and eliminates the substandard shoulder deficiencies, and improves the traffic weaving conditions which are prevalent on the existing approaches to the bridges.

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Will this project include a study of the possible re-construction of the old railroad bridge east of the Little Bay Bridges? Will the design of the future bridges across the Bay include provisions for the grade and weight requirements of railroads? (Updated 4/17/08)
The reconstruction of the old railroad bridge east of the Little Bay Bridges to follow the old railroad corridor (from Bloody Point through Hilton Park alongside the Turnpike) is not considered feasible due to the extremely high cost of such an endeavor and the magnitude of impacts to private property, Hilton Park, and Little Bay. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) reviewed the railroad corridors in the region and identified existing and planned rail networks.  Opportunities to enhance the existing network and constraints to providing passenger and freight rail service were identified and evaluated.  This evaluation weighed the potential to divert automobile trips to passenger rail against the infrastructure requirements, capital costs and impacts to the environment and private properties.  Based on this evaluation, expansion of the existing Downeaster service to better serve the commuters in the Dover and Rochester vicinity was deemed the most viable of the rail alternatives, was incorporated as part of the Selected Alternative, and was implemented in August 2007.  Other rail alternatives – which would provide passenger and rail service between Rochester and Portsmouth – were deemed infeasible based on the high capital costs of infrastructure requirements ($205.5 million - $250.7 million (2007 dollars)), relatively low ridership projections, and the impacts to the environment and private properties.

Why doesn’t the study area include the Dover Tollbooth? (Updated 4/17/08)
It has been consistently stated and acknowledged from the project’s initiation, as well as repeated throughout the study at numerous Public Informational and Advisory Task Force meetings that the Dover toll facility and toll-related issues fall outside the project study area and scope of study.  First, the project’s study area was identified and established following the 1998 Route 16 Corridor Protection Study and the 2000 Newington-Dover Feasibility Study by determining that the current and future Turnpike traffic operating conditions north of the toll plaza were satisfactory.  In contrast, the section of the Turnpike between Exit 1 and the Dover Toll Plaza operates at a poor level of service, both in the current and future design year.  Secondly, changes to the Turnpike tolling system require State Legislative and Executive Council approval, and may have revenue impacts.  These are considered state-level issues potentially affecting the entire Turnpike system, not project level matters.  The Newington-Dover project was never envisioned to include an assessment of potential traffic impacts resulting from changes in toll facility locations or tolling pricing policies.

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Will this project help reduce bypass traffic using Dover Point Road to avoid paying the toll? (Updated 4/17/08)
The NHDOT has reviewed the historic traffic data on Dover Point Road, US 4, and Spaulding Turnpike in the area of the Dover Toll Plaza.  Traffic volumes (AADT), from 1993-2003, have increased from 25,223 to 39,109 (55%) at the Dover toll facility, while traffic volumes along Dover Point Road (at traffic counter 125001 which is located south of Middlebrook Road) have decreased from 13,547 to 12,901 (-4.7%).  During the same 1993-2003 period, NB traffic exiting the Turnpike at Exit 6 to travel east on Dover Point Road has increased slightly (1%) on a daily basis, and has actually decreased by approximately 7.6% during the weekday PM peak hour.  With respect to US 4, daily and weekday PM peak hour NB exiting traffic from the Turnpike at Exit 6 to travel westbound on US 4 has decreased during the 1996-2003, 7-year period, by approximately 1.5% and 11%, respectively.  As such, the perception that traffic is using Dover Point Road to bypass the Dover Toll Plaza is misconceived.  To the contrary, historic traffic volume data and regional travel demand projections demonstrate a greater regional transportation dependency on the Turnpike (or allowing more traffic to stay on the Turnpike) as opposed to a larger diversion of traffic to the secondary routes in the region.

Is the No-Build Alternative a viable long-term solution? (Updated 4/17/08)
No. The purpose of this project is to improve transportation efficiency and reduce safety problems while minimizing social, economic and environmental impacts. Travel demand management alternatives – expanded bus and rail service and employer-based programs such as ridesharing and flexible work hours – will not in and of themselves, or in conjunction with short-term transportation system management (TSM) improvements, significantly improve the current level of traffic congestion nor eliminate the major safety deficiencies (e.g., lack of adequate shoulder areas on the bridges and bridge approaches, inadequate auxiliary lanes and close spacing of interchanges) within the study area. Future No-Build traffic conditions will significantly increase both the level and duration of daily traffic congestion with or without implementation of transit and other TDM alternatives, and the probability of increased vehicle crashes.

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Were high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes considered as an alternative to reduce the number of lanes required and reduce the width of pavement cross section? (Updated 4/17/08)
Several HOV lane alternatives were considered. Unfortunately, given the compactness of the study area, the relatively short distance between Exits 1 and 6 in comparison to the distance required to safely merge and weave traffic entering and exiting the HOV lane, and the relatively low level of projected ridership, HOV alternatives between Exits 1 and 6 are infeasible from a traffic safety and operations perspective. Also, the seven-lane and eight-lane HOV alternatives require a wider pavement cross-section than the eight-lane typical section.

Why are four lanes of travel in each direction recommended between Exits 3 and 6, as opposed to three lanes of travel in each direction? (Updated 4/17/08)
Three general purpose lanes and one traffic management lane are required between Exits 3 and 6 to provide a satisfactory level of traffic service for the design year (2025) and beyond, as well as allowing traffic to safely enter, change lanes or exit the Turnpike between Exits 3 and 6. Three lanes in each direction combined with the most aggressive transit and TDM program will not provide a safe and satisfactory level of traffic service, thus would not meet the project’s purpose and need.

Why are Exits 3 (Woodbury Avenue) and 6 (US 4/Dover Point Road) being reconfigured? (Updated 4/17/08)
Reconfiguration of Exit 3 will allow full access from the north and south to both Woodbury Avenue and Arboretum Drive (Pease Tradeport). Reconfiguration of Exit 6 allows full access from the north and south to US 4 and Dover Point Road and improved local connections between Spur Road and Boston Harbor Road, and between US 4 and Dover Point Road. These full-service interchanges will eliminate some of the circuitous travel that presently occurs on the Turnpike.

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At Exit 6, why is the signalized diamond interchange preferable for northbound exiting traffic to US 4, in comparison to the current loop ramp? (Updated 4/17/08)
Future travel demands would require a 2-lane loop ramp. The signalized northbound off-ramp (double left-turn) will be safer, cost approximately $2M less to construct and would avoid the potential for vehicles queuing back from the Dover Toll Plaza and blocking the new northbound on-ramp which would occur under the 2-lane loop ramp concept.

Won’t traffic signals at Exit 6 cause excessive delay for exiting northbound traffic headed westbound to US 4? (Updated 4/17/08)
No. Once existing traffic turns left towards US 4, traffic will flow freely onto the Scammell Bridge. The existing traffic signal at Boston Harbor Road/Spur Road will be eliminated, and westbound traffic will not be required to stop at the proposed southbound on-ramp traffic signal.

Why must Exits 2 (Fox Point Road) and 5 (Hilton Drive) be closed? (Updated 4/17/08)
Given the proximity of Exit 2 to Exit 3, and the proximity of Exit 5 to Exit 6, both are proposed to be closed due to traffic operational and safety concerns. In addition, redesign of the Exit 5 ramps to minimum standards would severely impact both Hilton Park and the Wentworth Terrace neighborhood.

What is the extent of wetlands impact and what is proposed as mitigation? (Updated 2/24/11)
Approximately 11.9 acres of wetlands in Newington and 8.5 acres of wetlands in Dover will be impacted as a result of the project. The wetlands mitigation package for these impacts consists of the following:

  • The preservation of the 120-acre Tuttle Farm in Dover is completed
  • The preservation of the 40-acre Day property in Dover within the Blackwater Brook watershed is completed
  • A conservation easement for the restoration of approximately 3,400 feet of Railway Brook in Newington is currently being pursued
  • The Department was unable to come to an agreement on the Watson property and is currently pursuing other properties for preservation in the Knight Brook watershed in Newington.

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How much will the project cost to construct, and what is the construction schedule? (Updated 2/24/11)
The estimated construction cost of the "Selected Alternative" is $207 M (2010 dollars). The total cost, including right-of-way acquisition, engineering, TDM/TSM measures, and mitigation is estimated to be $257 M (2010 dollars). Construction is planned to occur from 2010 to 2018. During construction, two lanes of traffic flow in each direction will be maintained and expanded bus service, as proposed, will be provided.

 






New Hampshire Department of Transportation
PO Box 483 | 7 Hazen Drive | Concord, NH | 03302-0483
Tel: 603.271-3734 | Fax: 603.271.3914
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