Area road projects on state’s 10-year plan

CONCORD – Gov. Craig Benson will get a proposed 10-year highway plan that’s $500 million out of balance.

The Executive Council and Transportation Commissioner Carol Murray approved a $2 billion wish list Wednesday when the best estimates are that only $1.5 million will be available in state and federal grants over the next decade.

“Some projects fall out, some slow down, there will be a natural shifting,’’ Murray told reporters.

The plan includes roughly $90 million to build a northern segment of the Nashua-Hudson Circumferential Highway, starting at the F.E. Everett Turnpike in Nashua and ending at Route 102 in Hudson, with a projected completion date of 2014.

Murray said she would talk with local officials about the possibility of scaling back the project to a bridge over the Merrimack River that would link Merrimack and Litchfield.

Councilor Dave Wheeler, R-Milford, had the project added to the list, among the more than a dozen offered by individual councilors.

The plan also incorporates $27.8 million for the Broad Street Parkway with its reduced size and scope as requested by Nashua Mayor Bernie Streeter and the Board of Aldermen. The proposed completion date for that project is 2009.

The changes will move back the completion date, Murray said, as new environmental studies must be done and the city has taken over administration of the project.

“This changes the whole schedule,’’ Murray said.

Benson could become the first chief executive to cut spending before presenting it to the Legislature for review during the 2004 session, Murray said.

“The governor is trying to be realistic about living within our financial resources,’’ Murray said.

Last month, Benson removed some Rye intersection work, believing that a traffic signal would suffice.

Lawmakers have approved updates to the planning document every two years since adopting the first one in 1984.

The group agreed to place at the end of the plan in 2014 a $250,000 study into construction of a new exit in Massachusetts to help in-state motorists get to the Pheasant Lane Mall and other stores along the southern _way in Nashua.

“This exit would be a big benefit to our residents heading south who can’t get to the mall very easily right now,’’ Wheeler said.

Councilor Ruth Griffin, R-Portsmouth, prevailed in getting removed from the plan the elimination of the tollbooths in Hampton on the southbound side of Interstate 95.

Murray will report in February on the results of an experiment with one-way tolls that Benson pursued earlier this year. The one-way experiment ended in October.

Griffin said it’s premature to include the $3.5 million to remove the toll stations before the council gets its report.