Parkway project gets $900k from feds

NASHUA – The city will get $900,000 more in federal money than anticipated to build the Broad Street Parkway, the city engineer said Wednesday.

During a presentation to the aldermen’s infrastructure committee, City Engineer Steven Dookran said his research uncovered the additional money, part of a chunk of federal transportation dollars the state receives and disperses to various municipalities.

The addition would bring the remaining federal dollars available to the city to $30.5 million under city estimates, as opposed to $29.6 million estimated by a consulting firm that prepared a study for the city, Dookran said.

That’s on top of the $14.2 million in federal money the city has already spent to acquire properties and conduct a design study, money that city officials said the city would have to return if the parkway isn’t built.

At the committee’s request, Dookran prepared a report that also examined estimates of inflation rates in the July cost-reduction study prepared by Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin Inc. of Bedford.

VHB had applied an across-the-board inflation rate of 7 percent to the parkway, which it projected would be finished in 2011.

Dookran said he examined various tables and industry-based organizations and arrived at an estimated inflation rate of 8 percent for construction materials and 5 percent for construction management, engineering, testing, design and other costs.

Dookran also extended the project to 2012.

The result: VHB estimated one option, the so-called reduced 2007 concept, to require $36.8 million in local funds. Dookran estimated the local cost of that option at $37.6 million.

For the second option, which would end at the Millyard rather than extending the road into the Tree Streets, VHB estimated $30.9 million for the cost, and Dookran estimated $29.9 million.

Alderman-at-Large Fred Teeboom and Ward 4 Alderman Marc Plamondon, the vice chairman and chairman respectively of the infrastructure committee, have co-sponsored legislation to borrow up to $37.6 million to build the parkway.

“At this point, I’m not sure we’ve picked one option over another,” Dookran said in response to a question from Teeboom.

If the city borrowed the higher amount and went with the less costly option, the additional $7.7 million could be spent on adding amenities such as a bike path, Dookran said.

Or it could be applied toward paying off the bond, he said.

Also at the committee meeting, Alderman-at-Large David Deane, who opposes building the parkway, asked for a detailed report showing how much was spent on each of the properties the state acquired in the parkway’s right of way.

Dookran said he has a partial list and is waiting to get the rest of the information from the state Transportation Department.

Up to this point, the parkway is a state project, and the state negotiated to buy properties in the right of way.

If the city commits to building the road, it would have to formally accept ownership of the project from the state.