$2.3M federal grant boosts Main Street redesign in West Lebanon

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 01-05-2023 5:27 PM

WEST LEBANON — A $4 million city project to revitalize the West Lebanon Main Street corridor recently received a major funding boost in the form of a $2.3 million federal grant, which city officials said will speed the plan along significantly.

In a joint news release Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., announced the $2.3 million grant to fund the city’s redesign plan, which aims to improve pedestrian safety and traffic flow, prevent street flooding, and upgrade the streetscape’s aesthetic.

The grant was secured through the congressionally directed spending process, which appropriated the funds from the $1.7 trillion yearlong spending package that President Joe Biden signed into law last week, according to the legislators’ news release.

The West Lebanon project, last estimated in June at a cost of $4.1 million, will redesign the corridor between the Main Street’s intersections with Bridge Street and with South Main and Maple streets.

The plan includes a roundabout at the intersection with Bridge Street, which is aimed at reducing traffic delays and vehicle speeds, increase pedestrian safety and create better spaces for landscaping and aesthetic improvements.

At a presentation last June to the Lebanon City Council, engineering consultant Greg Bakos of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, a firm based in Burlington, explained that the existing intersection was not designed to adequately accommodate the volume of traffic it currently handles.

The project will also improve pedestrian and vehicle travel along Main Street, including wider sidewalks; the addition of benches, landscaping and shade trees; and parking upgrades.

These improvements were among the most desired changes identified by residents and West Lebanon business owners, who participated in a design workshop event in 2019.

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In addition to surface-level improvements, the project also will make upgrades to the corridor’s existing stormwater and sewer infrastructure.

Assistant City Manager David Brooks, who worked on this project for more than 18 months when serving as the Lebanon planning director, said the federal grant was key in budgeting for the project.

“If it had to be funded by the city (without this grant), we would have needed to fund it in a different way and over a longer time period,” Brooks said. “This enables us to get the project done in a much shorter time frame.

The council already approved funding for the project last summer, authorizing the city to appropriate up to $4.3 million, Brooks said.

In addition to the federal grant, the city also has $700,000 saved in its West Lebanon capital reserve fund, which leaves a remaining balance of $1.3 million. Brooks said the city plans to take out a bond to cover the difference.

City Manager Shaun Mulholland, in a written statement, praised Shaheen and Kuster for their assistance securing the grant for Lebanon.

“This is another example of a positive collaborative project between the city and the federal government to make tangible improvements in the lives of our citizens by improving our neighborhoods and enhancing the economic vitality of our region,” Mulholland said. “Senator Shaheen and congresswoman Kuster have taken a leadership role to help improve our city and the region as a whole.”

Brooks said the West Lebanon project is entering its final design phase. There is still some work to complete, including a sewer system analysis, before the city puts the project out to bid for a construction firm.

In addition, the city needs to review the terms and conditions of the grant, to understand how the grant will be administered and what requirements the city may have to meet, Brooks added.

Brooks said the city hopes to put the project out to bid in fall 2023.

The project is designed to be completed within a single construction season, meaning if construction began hypothetically in April 2024 it would be expected to be completed by the fall of 2024.

The Main Street project is part of a broader recommended plan by the West Lebanon Revitalization Committee, which has been studying improvements to the village since 2020. The revitalization plan also focuses on key areas such as the Westboro Rail Yard, Greenway and Bridge Street Park.

Patrick Adrian can be reached at 603-727-3216 or padrian@vnews.com.

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