By CHELSEY POLLOCK
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- As the state prepares to update its 10-year transportation plan, regional planning commissions will turn to local governments for project requests in the coming months.
At a meeting of the Derry Planning Board Wednesday night, Tim White of the Southern New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission said towns would likely be asked to start putting together project ideas in January or February.
“This is just a head start for the town to begin thinking about the projects that are in the current 10-year plan and those that you would like to see in the next version of the 10-year highway plan,” said White, the commission’s senior transportation planner, at the Wednesday meeting.
After the commission’s 13 area towns submit project proposals, White said his staff will prioritize the items and forward a recommendation to the state DOT by May 1. A new state 10-year plan reaching from 2013 to 2022 will then be approved by the Legislature in 2012, he said.
Several projects affecting Derry are already laid out in the state’s current plan, including the expansion on Interstate 93 from Manchester to Salem. A million dollars in state funding is also slated for the design engineering of Exit 4 off I-93, White said.
While Exit 4 construction is already listed in the commission’s long-range plan, which includes conceptual proposals likely to be completed by 2035, White said no decisions about an Exit 4 timeline have been made.
“Just because a project is included in our long-range plan doesn’t necessarily mean that the project is funded,” he said. “We include in our long-range plan because the commission considers it to be a significant transportationprojectthatwe’re assuming is going to be built.”
Other projects in the commission’s own long-range plan include a widening of Route 28 from Ross’ Corner in Derry to the Londonderry town line and shoulder and drainage improvements on Route 28 through both towns.
But with the recent completion of updates to the Crystal Avenue/Broadway intersection and red-listed Fordway Road Bridge over Beaver Brook and plans to expand Route 28 on Manchester Road in the spring, Derry Planning Director George Sioras said there are few Derry projects left off the state’s current 10-year plan.
“Most of our major projects are already part of the plan and are really going to happen,” Sioras said.