By Susan Morse
Herald Sunday, Sunday, May 8, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of Herald Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- A state Department of Transportation plan to close the Route 27 railroad bridge for renovations is being postponed from fall until spring 2006.
Robert Barry, DOT administrator of Bureau of Municipal Highways, told Town Manager James Barrington the job could not be done until the spring due to issues with utility relocations.
May 3 was the deadline to advertise the project.
The bridge renovation is now scheduled to take place from April to mid-May next year. Both spring and fall is when traffic volume is at its lowest, Barry said.
The state plans to close the former B&M Railroad bridge for a maximum of 21 days.
Estimated traffic across the bridge per day by spring 2006 is 12,400 vehicles, Barry said. Most will detour around the bridge using Route 101 and the Hampton/Hampton Falls exit.
"Clearly, none of us is excited about that bridge being closed for any period of time," Barrington said. "It needs to be done."
The bridge is owned by the state, while the road is a town road. Ownership of the bridge was supposed to go to the town once the project was complete, but the state has scaled back on its plans to the extent the town will no longer accept it, Barry said.
The town wanted the bridge realigned with Route 27 east, or High Street. Under that premise, the state would take half of the former Sanel auto parts shop, plus the Depot Clipper barber shop in Depot Square. The cost was estimated at $3 million plus.
"When the department saw the price tag and based on availability of federal aid funds in the next five to seven years, we decided we couldn't afford it," Barry said.
Instead, the state will replace the wooden deck with one of concrete to increase the load limit on the bridge to allow for larger trucks such as fire apparatus, fuel trucks and town trucks loaded with sand.
The project will be done at no cost to the town at an estimated $500,000 price tag.