Milford’s South Street revamp hits roadblock

MILFORD – Two major road projects might have to be delayed because of a cutback in federal funding: the plan to widen and improve South Street and another plan to improve traffic flow at the Emerson Road/Armory Road/Route 13 intersection.

Both projects were supposed to begin this year, but Bill Parker, Milford’s community development director, told selectmen the state Department of Transportation let him know that New Hampshire is not getting as much federal highway money, so all road project funding is on hold except for projects that are underway,

Bill Cass, DOT’s project director, however, said the town should “keep moving forward” with its plans, Parker said.

But “the bottom line is that there is no federal funding to start our two projects,” Parker said.

There is a public hearing on South Street scheduled for July 28 in Milford Town Hall, and Town Administrator Guy Scaife agreed the town will continue to push forward, because the situation “could turn at a moment’s notice.”

The government is supposed to pay for 80 percent of the $1 million work on the narrow street, which is part of Route 13. It leads in and out of the Oval and is often clogged with traffic. Plans call for gradual road widening, moving utilities underground and adding new curbs and sidewalks on most of the road’s length.

South Street has been planned since 2006 when the town started putting money away, and it has been subject to lengthy reviews from the state DOT.

Selectmen are not happy and mentioned contacting U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and letting her know how important the project is to the town.

“The project is cursed,” said Mark Fougere, and “time kills deals,” a real estate adage.

Chairman Gary Daniels noted the same thing happened to the Osgood Pond dredging project after Hurricane Katrina, and federal money slated for Milford went south.

Parker noted that South Street also will be partially funded by a transportation grant that has a deadline of late spring 2015, so that deadline will have to be extended.

The Emerson Road/Armory Road/Route 13 intersection improvements had been delayed at the state level and work was finally set to begin this spring.

Its cost is $450,000, and it should also be covered by an 80 percent federal matching grant.

The safety and traffic flow changes would include new eastbound, westbound and southbound turning lanes, with left-turn-only signalization from Emerson and Armory roads.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.