Ossipee—September 3, 2019—Delays and construction along Route 16 in southern Carroll County will be going into overdrive there soon, according to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
It begins with road reconstruction; then, toward the end of the month, a bridge in Ossipee will be replaced. The state website will have a live cam feed of the bridge work.
The NHDOT put out a press release explaining that “substantial” road work, requiring one lane of alternating two-way traffic, will begin the first week of September. The work is part of a project that includes replacing three bridges (Lovell River, Bearcamp River and Bearcamp Relief) and 3.5 miles of roadway reconstruction on Route 16.
The 1955-constructed Bearcamp River Bridge and adjacent Bearcamp River Relief Bridge (both south of Jake’s Seafood and north of Pizza Barn in Ossipee) have been listed as structurally deficient in the NBI (National Bridge Inventory).
The 1950-built Lovell River Bridge just north of Indian Mound Golf Course in Ossipee is also in poor condition, but Bearcamp River Relief Bridge has the worst sufficiency (11.4 percent), compared with Bearcamp River (40.6 percent) and Lovell (32.4 percent), according to a report from state project manager Alex Vogt.
Reed & Reed general contractors of Woolwich, Maine, is in charge of the work on the $16.9 million project, which has a final completion date of June 25, 2021.
The road work includes grading and paving, and the one-way traffic will be controlled using flaggers, operational signs, cones and barrels. There will be extended periods of time where drivers will travel on unpaved surfaces, the state said.
Drivers should approach the area with caution and expect delays.
Reed & Reed project manager Dominique Cyr held an outreach meeting regarding construction of the bridge replacement and road work on Aug. 28 at the Ossipee Town Hall gym. With Cyr were Reed & Reed Site Superintendent Greg Letourneau and Chuck Flanders of the NHDOT Bureau of Construction.
Flanders said the work, which was put off until after Labor Day because of holiday traffic, would include resurfacing the road, which won’t have pavement for about a week and a half. He said the work would begin on Sept. 4.
The first section of road work would start in the area of Ira’s Lane and run south nearly to the bridge. The second part will run from south of the Bearcamp Bridge south to near the Lovell Bridge.
“For the next month, at least, it’s going to be busy out there,” said Flanders.
Work to replace the Lovell Bridge will start in the fall, continuing over the winter and finishing in the spring. A temporary bridge and a diversion put in. Two lanes of traffic will be open the entire time.
Replacing the Bearcamp Relief Bridge involves building a new bridge next to the old one, demolishing the old one and sliding the new one into place. Cyr said the hope is to slide the new relief bridge into place between Sept. 20-24.
The closure would begin 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, and end at 6 a.m. the following Tuesday, Sept. 25. Paving would take place for a few days after that, but only a single lane would be closed.
Work will run 24 hours a day, said the trio.
“We are going to be noisy,” said Letourneau.
There will be detours in place, said Flanders. Anyone coming from the south on Route 16 trying to get to Tamworth will be sent over Route 171 to Route 25 and Moultonborough. Then anyone trying to get to Conway would be directed to Route 25 and 153.
“We will have lots of signs prior to those intersections to try to give them an idea of where they should go,” said Flanders, saying there also will be signs for southbound traffic.
Asked by the Sun how much time the detours might add to a driver’s commute, NHDOT District Engineer Jim Bowles, who is also on the Tamworth Fire Department, said: “For the people going from Rochester to Conway, it’s actually shorter to go 25 to 153 than it is 16.” He added that Route 153 is less safe so that route isn’t encouraged.
“Obviously, if you are just going to Tamworth, and you took 171, that’s got to add a good 25 minutes, a half hour.”
Cyr said for anyone who wants to watch the bridge slide, there will be a “live webcam feed” of the work on ossipeebridges.com. “When the time comes around and we’re sliding this bridge, you will be able to go to that website and watch it live 24 hours per day if you want,” he said.
John Paven, owner of Ski Works in West Ossipee, asked if the Bearcamp River would be affected and was told that it wouldn’t be this year at least.
The Bearcamp Bridge will be worked on next year, and the schedule is pretty much identical, said Cyr.
Letourneau, in response to Paven, said access to the river will be taken up with equipment next year but people will still be able to kayak on the river.
Bowles said the construction workers, when need be, will be able to pause their work to allow a kayaker to paddle under the bridge.
“They won’t close the river,” said Bowles.