Audley Tames Hazardous Interchange in NH

Wed December 01, 2004 - National Edition
Kip Fry

A convoluted intersection near Manchester, NH, that has been replete with hazardous weaving conditions is in the process of being corrected.

New Hampshire Route 101 crosses U.S. Route 3 in Bedford, just on the southwestern outskirts of Manchester, but it has long been a hazardous interchange. Work also is being done on the intersection of Route 3 and Kilton Road, so the area has become a major construction zone. Technically, the work has been split into two projects totaling $22.2 million.

The work on the route 3 bridges has a price tag of $14.8 million while construction on the Kilton Road intersection will cost $7.4 million.

The Route 3 project should be finished by the spring of 2006 and the other by spring 2005. Both projects started on April 9, 2003 and are on schedule.

Audley Construction, of Bow, NH, is the primary contractor on both jobs, but, according to an engineer for the company, they are practically the same job because they are just a quarter-mile from each other.

“The New Hampshire Department of Transportation [NHDOT] doesn’t like to let out jobs that big,” said Fred Kennison, an engineer of Audley. The NHDOT has split the project into two different jobs. Between the two projects, three brand new bridges are being built and another is being widened.

The old bridges were too narrow for their capacity, which in 1999 was approximately 48,000 vehicles a day. To avoid all that traffic, some of the work has been done at night. For three nights in June, the eastbound bridge was closed, but only for several 15-minute periods between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

“There is a lot of traffic and a lot of merging traffic,” said Kennison. “We have to pick our hours we can work and not do things at 4 p.m. It’s a free-for-all at rush hour.”

Two lanes of traffic have been maintained throughout the project, according to Jay Levine, contract administrator of the NHDOT. “There are always traffic issues, but no major impacts,” he said.

Last year, there was one detour on the eastbound bridge that lasted one month. Concrete was poured on the bridge deck during June.

Two reinforced earth walls and a temporary bridge have been built for the Route 3 project. While the temporary bridge was needed for the westbound lane, none was needed going the other direction because work on that was done in phases. Four reinforced walls are needed at Kilton Road as well as box culvert excavation and a metal plate arch bridge, Levine said. As a result, there is a good deal of landscaping to be done.

“There is a lot of approach work to be done and the roads are being pushed further apart to allow for the extra lanes. Route 3 is also being modified below,” said Kennison. As a result, approximately 50,000 cu. yds. (45,500 cu m) of dirt are being excavated and 120,000 cu. yds. (109,200 cu m) are being moved for the embankments.

One of the major changes will take place where oncoming traffic will merge with traffic already on the highway. That interchange will be moved further to the west, according to Levine.

Things are going well on the project, although workers have encountered a lot of clay with high moisture content, which is slowing things just a bit. This came into play when workers were digging for utilities.

“There have been no huge problems,” said Kennison.

Audley construction is using a number of different cranes during the construction such as Manitowoc, Link-Belt and American. The company uses Caterpillars for its excavating.

Two new signal lights are being installed, as well, and three others upgraded, Levine said.

Route 101 is an east-west highway that skirts along the southern edge of Manchester and is one of the primary accesses to Manchester Municipal Airport. Both bridges have been “red listed,” Levine said, so they were ready to be replaced anyway. As long as the bridges are being replaced, engineers will be able to eliminate the hazardous weaving conditions.

Audley is being aided by a number of subcontractors, including Continental Paving, of Londonderry, NH; DeLucca Fence, of Methuen, MA; and H.B. Fleming, of South Portland, ME, who is building the sheet pile walls.