Hampton pitches $15.7M project to fix pothole-plagued roads

HAMPTON – Jerry Znoy agrees to drive down potholed Winnacunnet Road and High Street that there is no doubt that both roads need to be tackled.

However, he’s not in favor of a $ 15.7 million project at the March city meeting to rebuild both streets, including replacing sewage and drainage systems, as well as sidewalks, curbs, and other improvements.

“It’s just way too much,” said Znoj, who said the city should focus on tackling one street, finishing it off, and then moving to the next.

Sharleen Hurst, who lives on Winnacunnet Road, is for driving both roads at the same time and says if not now, then when.

“It will be a lot more expensive in the future and cost a lot more if we drive one road at a time,” said Hurst.

Selectmen recently held a public hearing on the project to target the city’s “two major arteries” and those about which they receive the most complaints.

The Big Ticket Project will go to voters first in front of residents at the January 30th advisory session at Hampton Academy, and then to voters on March 9th. The project requires a 60 percent vote to get approval.

Voters overwhelmingly backed the $ 435,000 spend from the Road Improvement Capital Reserve Fund last year to develop construction and design plans to rebuild both roads with updated sewers and drainage.

Jennifer Hale, assistant director of public works, said the study led to this year’s arrest warrant article.

The recent survey and camera inspection of the infrastructure beneath Winnacunnet Road and High Street found areas of both streets in disarray, areas where drainage is not working, and sewer pipes that are broken or cracked.

Hale said the department’s policy in repairing roads is to address any underlying issues.

Winnacunnet Road is approximately 2.3 miles long and has 9,000 feet of sewer and over 6,500 feet of drainage. High Street is about 2 miles with 4,000 feet of sewer and 3,500 feet in drains. Winnacunnet will cost $ 9.5 million and High Street will cost $ 6.2 million.

While selected individuals recommend voters to approve the project, the Budgets Committee does not.

The committee had asked selected individuals to split the project in two, do the high street this year and launch Winnacunnet a few years later.

Selectmen declined the request, saying it would be cheaper to do both at the same time in the long run.

The warrant article calls on the city to tie up $ 13.7 million over a 30-year period. The remainder of the balance would come from the Road Improvement Capital Reserve Fund and the city’s unallocated fund balance of one million apiece.

At the December 22nd budget committee meeting, chairman Brian Warburton said no one on the committee disagreed that both roads must be ready.

However, he said they were not confident that both projects could be managed at the same time.

They were also concerned about the lack of detail and that the total cost originally presented to them was $ 13.3 million but increased to $ 15.7 six days later.

Hale stated at the public hearing that the initial cost was an internal estimate and that the $ 15.7 million was provided by the engineers.

Hale said the department hopes grants are available to help cut costs, noting the project is “shovel ready.”

Selected people are unanimously behind the project.

Selectmen Rusty Bridle said the reason he supported the project is because most of the complaints the board receives have to do with the condition of the city’s roads.

“We even had a person who called it Winnabumpit Road. “… The study showed that we had cracked pipes and leaky connections. We have water infiltrating it. I think we have to do it. “

He said the combination of the two projects will attract larger companies to bid for the project and potentially cut costs.

Selectman Chuck Rage said while it’s an expensive project the cost will only rise if you wait. He said the last time the city withheld a necessary project was when it turned down a $ 4.2 million project to replace a sewer pipe in the swamp in 2017. The pipe broke a year later and cost “a lot more money”. ”

Chosen One Regina Barnes, who is the representative budget committee of the elect, urged early on that elect use both streets at the same time.

“This is a real investment in the city and when you look at our infrastructure, it has to be invested in,” said Barnes.

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