The Town Council authorized the town manger to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Town of Derry and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) to move forward with the construction of Exit 4A.
Town Manager Kevin Smith told the Council at their Dec. 7 meeting the agreement, which both the Attorney General’s Office and the town attorney reviewed, includes two sections that protect the $5 million cap on both Londonderry and Derry’s financial obligation to the project.
The Derry Town Council approved the MOA at their Dec. 1 meeting.
As part of the agreement, the Town is to share with Derry the cost to prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and supporting studies for Exit 4A; as well as a retainer for CLD Consulting Engineers Project team at a total cost of $204,744.
The retainer funds were added to the MOA to Allow Phase II services to begin as soon as the scope and costs are approved.
Both Derry and Londonderry have already pitched in $1.7 million of their $5 million maximum contributions to Exit 4A, which is estimated will cost $53.3 million.
Exit 4A is funded-the project was added to the State’s 10-year highway plan, according to Chris Bean of CLD Engineers.
Town Manager Kevin Smith noted the State legislature increased the gas tax to generate $50 million for Exit 4A.
Additionally, a five-year federal highway bill was signed into law this week.
“We do have written commitments from the DOT and the Governor that Exit 4-A will be funded up to $50 million from the DOT,” he said.
Moving forward with the nearly 30-year project, Bean said CLD plans to take a phased approach with multiple steps to complete a revised Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) and Final Environmental Impact Study (FEIS) documents based on updated technical information.
The DOT agreed in Sept. 2014 to take administrative control of the completion of the FEIS, the final design and the construction of the Exit 4A project, which is slated to begin in 2019.
“This is a very aggressive schedule, and it will take some real aggressive thinking and thinking out of the box. The DOT is willing to work outside the box and try to make it happen,” said Bean, who has been working to move the project forward since the Town’s original bond was approved in 1992.
Phase I will kick-off with a meeting on Dec. 15 to outline the steps required to update the DEIS, which was drafted in 2007.
The project will require input from a number of agencies, including the Environmental
Protection Agency, the Department of Environmental Services and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The updated EIS is to be submitted to the Federal Highway Administration.
When asked by a member of the public about construction of a westerly connector as part of Exit 4A, Bean said they plan to address at the kick-off meeting that “the Exit 4A interchange has no westerly connection.”
Bean said they will hold a series of meetings to cover a range of topics, including base mapping, traffic and socioeconomic data, air quality and noise data, wetlands and vernal pools data and water quality data.
In Phase II, CLD’s team will work to develop a scope, cost proposal and project schedule to produce the Supplemental Draft EIS, take the project through the public hearing process and develop the Final EIS.
“I have never seen such momentum from both towns, state legislative folks and the governor to get this project done and move it forward. It’s refreshing, and important to the success of the project,” Bean said. “Resource agencies and federal agencies are watching. When townspeople show they are interested and are giving input, it makes a huge difference.”