Simply stated, the rebuilding of the I-93 Corridor will include the addition of two travel lanes in each direction over the 20 mile section from Salem to Manchester, improvements to the interchanges at each of the five exits, and replacement or rehabilitation of 43 bridges. New park and ride facilities at Exits 2, 3, and 5 will be built, and space within the median will be reserved to accommodate future commuter rail. In addition, bus service and other commuter ride-sharing opportunities to Boston and northern Massachusetts will be expanded and enhanced. The overall goal is to modernize the road system by upgrading the aging infrastructure to provide safer driving conditions, thus increasing mobility by offering flexible commuting options. Please see Project Overview for more details.
Construction started in 2006 with the Exit 4 Park-and-Ride Bus Terminal and is now well under way at other locations. Please see Construction Project Status for current project information. The NHDOT, based on priorities of improving safety, relieving congestion, and working within financial constraints has developed a construction schedule for completion of the entire I-93 Salem to Manchester corridor. Furthermore, NHDOT is committed to evaluating this schedule on a regular basis in order to provide the maximum benefit to the public.
Although rail options were considered, it was clear that widening of I-93 was required to address existing traffic congestion, the condition of the aging infrastructure (bridges) and safety concerns. Preliminary study of rail ridership indicated that the addition of rail would not significantly reduce the traffic volumes on I-93. Therefore, the addition of rail at this time would not alleviate the need for additional lanes on I-93. However, NHDOT is not precluding the addition of rail in the future or providing other means of public transportation. All improvements to I-93 will be done to allow future rail service to be constructed within the highway corridor. In addition, the Department is also conducting a Transit Investment Study to investigate other transit options in the Corridor.
Improvements are needed to address today’s current concerns as well as future growth. Improvements to I-93 will address three main issues: safety; capacity/congestion and condition of aging infrastructure.
Safety: Since I-93 was built in the early 1960's, traffic volumes have increased by over 600% to approximately 115,000 vehicles per day in Salem. This increase in traffic volume and corresponding congestion has led to an increase in accidents. Each interchange (exit) has ramps with less than desirable grades and acceleration/deceleration lanes with less than desirable lengths. Furthermore, mainline grades at several locations are also greater than the desirable maximum. As traffic grows, the existing deficiencies will become more of a problem. Rebuilding I-93 will address these deficiencies by reconstructing each of the five interchanges (exits), improving grades along the mainline and increasing capacity.
Capacity/Congestion: As stated above, since being built in the early 1960's, traffic volumes on I-93 have increased by over 600%. Traffic frequently backs up between the state line and Manchester, especially during morning and evening rush hours, creating increased risks to the traveling public. Traffic volumes are projected to continue to increase, resulting in even more congestion, which will further compromise safety. The addition of two lanes in both directions will help alleviate the congestion.
Condition of Infrastructure: The highway is over 40 years old with bridges, roadway infrastructure and interchanges in need of major rehabilitation and modernization. Fourteen of the 43 bridges within the I-93 Salem to Manchester Corridor are on the State's “Red List”. Regardless of improving capacity/adding lanes, there is a major amount of work that needs to be done along the corridor just to improve the existing infrastructure. During the construction, the existing conditions will be addressed and improved.
NH has experienced a steady growth in population, development and recreational opportunities. The improvements to I-93 are in response to the past and projected future growth. This continued growth will undoubtedly affect many of the communities in the region. Therefore, this project initiative goes beyond just the widening and reconstruction of the roadways and bridges. In cooperation with the Regional Planning Commissions and the Office of Energy and Planning (OEP), the State of New Hampshire has developed a Community Technical Assistance Program (CTAP) whose purpose is to help communities in the I-93 region plan for future growth.
Most certainly there will be impacts to the traveling public during construction. However, the NHDOT is committed to doing everything possible to minimize these impacts. One of the strategies employed to mitigate the impacts is a public outreach program designed to keep the public informed of current and upcoming construction activities. Subscribers can receive automatic email notifications on work that may affect traffic for the specific area(s) of the I-93 Corridor of most interest to them, and real-time traffic information is available from this website homepage. Getting this information to the public in a timely manner allows them to adjust their arrival and departure times or choose alternate routes to their destinations, lessening the effects of construction activities on their travel times.
When construction started on the Exit 1 Ramps and Bridges in the Fall of 2007, the first Smart Work Zone (SWZ) in the state, part of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), was implemented, utilizing dynamic message signs relaying information and a camera to provide real-time traffic information to the public website and the Transportation Management Center. These programs work in conjunction with the Interstate 93 Corridor Traffic Incident Management Plan (I-93 TIMP) (I-93 TIMP), which will provide for safer and quicker clearing of highway incidents. All of these elements work together to improve the exchange of information among agencies, allowing the NHDOT, the New Hampshire Department of Safety, emergency responders and local municipalities to react more effectively to incidents on I-93, and further minimize and manage the impacts to the interstate, local streets, and services.