HAVERHILL — An increase in the cost of materials coupled with the need to reinforce an underground stormwater drain pipe has jacked up the cost of redesigning the intersection of Route 108 (Newton Road) and Route 110 from $2 million to $3.4 million.
The good news is that the additional costs will be covered with state and federal funds, officials said.
"Increased material costs throughout the industry are leading to increased project costs everywhere," explained City Engineer John Pettis. "And there was some increased cost associated with utilities, specifically it was found that some underlying stormwater drain pipe will need to be relined/reinforced to be able to withstand the roadway reconstruction work above it."
This intersection, which is across from Kenoza Lake, has been the site of numerous accidents in recent years and transportation officials say a redesign will improve sight lines for drivers, add dedicated vehicle turning lanes, improve the ability of trucks to turn safely and be safer for pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate.
Officials said the city paid for the design at a cost of about $207,000, while the federal highway administration and MassDOT will cover all construction costs at 80% and 20% respectively.
Anthony Komornick, transportation program manager for the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, said the additional $1.4 million needed to pay for the project will be covered by state and federal funding.
He said the MVPC provided technical assistance and made sure the project was included in the Transportation Improvement Program, a list of all transportation projects in the region that will receive federal funds.
Construction is expected to begin next spring and be completed within a year, he said.
"It is a very important location that serves a lot of traffic from New Hampshire and Interstate 495," Komornick said. "It is a high accident location and if you try to travel from Haverhill to head to Northern Essex Community College by bike of foot, there is no current accommodation to get you through that intersection."
The city's consultant on the project, Joseph Johnson of Greenman-Pederson Inc., said the crash rate for the intersection is above the statewide and MassDOT District 4 averages for "unsignalized" intersections, meaning those without traffic lights.
Johnson said the project is partly designed to improve the ability of large trucks to turn safely at the intersection.
He said the intersection is dangerous because it has an excessive amount of open area. It has just one small traffic island — not enough to safely guide vehicles through the spot.
"As a result, motorists are able to negotiate turning movements at a high rate of speed which corresponds to more severe crashes should they occur," Johnson said. "There is no defined pedestrian accommodation (i.e., sidewalk) nor dedicated facility for bicyclists."
The project includes dedicated bicycle lanes, new sidewalks along Route 110, a sidewalk connection to Winnekenni Park, drainage improvements, curb ramps for people in wheelchairs, and a new crosswalk closer to the park's entrance that will include automatic flashing warning beacons.
According to MassDOT, a left-turn lane and through lane will be implemented along Route 110 eastbound as part of the improvements.