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New Route 103 bridge will speed traffic flow


Motorists on U.S. 29 will be seeing more of their favorite color next month, if construction of the interchange at Route 103 and Route 100 proceeds as expected.

Traffic signals in both directions will be allowed to stay green longer once the interchange's bridge from St. John's Lane to Route 103 is opened, probably in late November, depending on the weather, said Harold Hoover, superintendent on the project for the Haverhill Construction Co.

Mr. Hoover and other contractors met with state highway officials yesterday to update them on project.

The $28 million interchange is expected to be completed by the end of 1993, but interim steps should speed traffic in most directions while complicating things in others.

The bridge won't eliminate the last U.S. 29 traffic signal between I-70 and Route 32. It will mean that fewer vehicles will need to use the traffic signal and its cycles can be shortened, said Larry Patterson, area engineer for the State Highway Administration.

But the new traffic pattern may anger motorists who regularly go from westbound Route 103 to northbound U.S. 29, he warned.

Currently, those motorists need only get onto a ramp to get onto U.S. 29. After the bridge opens, (see accompanying map) they will have to turn left onto Old Columbia Pike, right at the St. John's Lane crossover and right onto U.S. 29.

Likewise, motorists coming from St. John's Lane will have to cross the new bridge and turn right onto Old Columbia Pike to get onto U.S. 29.

The big event many motorists are no doubt waiting for -- the elimination of the light -- is not far off.

Contractors estimated that by the end of the year, they will have built all the necessary ramps to eliminate the light. Bad weather, however, would mean the light would have to stay on U.S. 29 until spring, Mr. Patterson said.

Eliminating the light likely will coincide with shifting northbound traffic from the current northbound lanes of U.S. 29 to the southbound side, where the two directions of traffic will be separated with a concrete divider. That will allow work on the new northbound lanes, which will be moved 200 feet east.

The next phase, expected to be done by late spring, will involve the opening of Long Gate Parkway and its bridge over Route 100.

When that happens, motorists will stop using Old Columbia Pike and begin using the eastbound Route 100 ramp and the parkway to get to Route 103 and St. John's Lane.

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