How to decide if parkway worth it?

NASHUA – Before aldermen decide whether to hold a Sept. 9 referendum on the Broad Street Parkway and before the board hears a first reading on a resolution to borrow up to $37.7 million on the cross-city roadway, aldermen will be briefed on how to weigh if the project is worth the cost.

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau has organized a workshop for 5:30 p.m. today at which aldermen will receive a broad-brush analysis of the potential benefits of the project, said Don Zizzi, who is providing economic development services to the city.

The meeting, in Room 208 of City Hall, will address how to go about assessing benefits “from a major infrastructure improvement like the Broad Street Parkway,” said Zizzi, who teaches at Boston University and Northeastern University.

A detailed cost-benefit analysis of the parkway would cost between $50,000 and $100,000, said Zizzi, whom the city began contracting with in May as it continues to search for a full-time economic development director.

The analysis that Zizzi will present today is just to make sure the aldermen are on the same page as they consider assumptions about the project and examine the more obvious benefits, he said.

“I just want to make sure the board of aldermen and board of public works understand what’s involved in this sort of thing,” Zizzi said.

When the board convenes in the aldermanic chamber at 7:30 p.m., members are expected to vote on a resolution by Alderman-at-Large Benjamin Clemons calling a Sept. 9 referendum on the parkway. The nonbinding referendum will ask residents whether the city should enter into an agreement with the state to manage the project and provide the necessary funding.

Sept. 9 is the date of a special municipal election to fill a vacancy on the board of education, as well as the state primary.

In 1997, residents in a referendum favored building the parkway, though at that time the cost was expected to be paid entirely by federal money and the project was a four-lane road with a median.

Also, the board will hear the first resolution to bond up to $37.7 million on the parkway. The resolution is sponsored by Alderman-at-Large Fred Teeboom and Ward 4 Alderman Marc Plamondon.

The figure is a revised estimate of the parkway’s cost that accounts for reductions made in the proposal and potential revenue generated from the sale of land taken when the roadway project was four-lanes and had a larger footprint.

After its first reading, the bond resolution is expected to be referred to the budget review committee. A public hearing also would be held on the proposal. The road would link downtown to Broad Street near the F.E. Everett Turnpike, skirting the Millyard technology area and crossing the Nashua River along the way.

First conceived as a way to ease traffic and reduce air pollution, the decades-old parkway proposal is now also viewed as a means for opening up the Millyard technology area for development.