DUMMER – State Department of Transportation officials outlined plans to improve a 1.3-mile stretch of Route 16 in Dummer to a small group of mostly town and local officials Tuesday night.
Jennifer Reczek, of DOT Bureau of Highway Design, said the stretch begins 250 feet south of the intersection of Route 115A and continues north to the vicinity of the Dummer Pond Road. She said because of the deteriorating condition of the pavement the project has been given top priority for the Route 16 corridor between Milan and Errol.
Reczek said the design team looked at several options and decided the best solution was to move the road to the west. She said the center line of the new alignment would be 50 feet from the center line of the existing road.
One of the advantages of moving the road would be getting it further away from the Androscoggin River, which is on the east. Mark Hemmerlein, of DOT’s Bureau of Environment, said the pavement would be removed and the old road would become a flat vegetative buffer area between the road and river. He said the buffer would absorb salt and nutrients that otherwise would leach into the river.
Jon Hebert, also from DOT’s Bureau of Highway Design, said the existing road is 24 feet wide with limited shoulders. The proposed new alignment would slightly reduce the width of the road but would include four-foot shoulders. The new alignment would be higher in some places, helping to eliminate some of the water issues that have made the road particularly susceptible to frost heaves. At this point, no guardrails are planned.
Since the new alignments would fall within the department’s right-of-way, Hebert said DOT is looking at purchasing property for a new ROW from Bayroot, which owns the land there. He said the department has worked with Bayroot in the past and is hoping to negotiate a purchase for a new ROW through negotiations and avoid going through eminent domain.
Hemmerlein said 4.3 acres of wetlands will be impacted and the department will have to make mitigation. He said they are looking at ways to improve fish passage on some streams as a way to meet the mitigation requirement. Another option is to make a cash contribution to the NH Aquatic Resource Mitigation Program, which gives out grants for projects in the watershed.
Estimated cost of the project was $3.5 million, not including purchase of a new ROW. Reczek said the department is ready to begin the final design and hope to advertise the project in September 2018 with construction in 2020. The work is expected to take two construction seasons. One-way travel will be maintained during the day and there will be two-way travel at night. Construction will shut down for the winter months.
Dummer selectmen asked if the project could extent north to take out the curve near Dummer Pond Road. Reczek said the team looked at that and calculated it would add another quarter of a mile to the project
She said with limited funds, the department has to set boundaries for projects.
DOT Highway Engineer Phil Beaulieu suggested the department consider moving the southern end of the project north to pick up the extra quarter mile on the northern end. Reczek said the team would take another look at the issue.
Bobby Roderigue said he totally supports the project and asked about the rest of Route 16. He said there were sections that were in extremely poor shape this spring. He and others pointed out Route 16 is a major road for tourists and the region is trying to promote tourism.
Reczek said DOT is also hoping to do another stretch of Route 16 in Cambridge. She said the team would consider the input from the meeting in developing a final design.