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By Paul Feely Union Leader Staff

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Officials in Manchester have released refined designs for the proposed roadway and bridge known as the South Commercial Street Extension, part of the federally funded RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities transportation infrastructure improvement project.

The South Commercial Street Extension will create a new connection from Granite Street to Elm Street by crossing over the active rail corridor just south of Delta Dental Stadium.

The new route is expected to alleviate congestion during peak hours, improve emergency response times to the south Millyard area and provide an alternative access point for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists attending events at Delta Dental Stadium and the Hilton Garden Inn, RAISE Manchester said in a news release.

After receiving public input during a December 2022 presentation at the Manchester City Library and additional conversations with residents, businesses and community groups, the city has refined the design.

“South Commercial Street Extension is a critical element of the RAISE Manchester project, as it promises to connect the south Millyard with Elm Street and reduce traffic congestion, especially on Granite Street during peak hours or major events at the SNHU Arena and Delta Dental Stadium,” RAISE Manchester Project Manager and city traffic engineer Kristen Clarke said in a statement. “The public input has been instrumental in enhancing its functionality. The improvements made to this design prioritize safety and will make it more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate and share the travel way.”

The updated design expands the pedestrian walkway from 8 feet to 12 feet wide for most of the bridge, making the two-way shared-use path at least twice as wide as a typical sidewalk, officials said.

Along Riverwalk Way, the roadway will be realigned and additional parking spaces located under the proposed bridge for Residences at Riverwalk apartment residents.

Pedestrian and bicycle traffic can use the signalized intersection at Elm Street, allowing for direct access to the rail trail.

Focused around the South Millyard area to the northern end of South Willow Street, officials say the project will “improve connectivity for multiple modes of transportation,” as well as pedestrians, improve commute times, reduce traffic jams near Exit 5 off Interstate 293 and alleviate traffic ahead of performances at the SNHU Arena or baseball games at Delta Dental Stadium.

The project is funded by a $25 million federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant.

The project is expected to include:

  • A new pedestrian bridge over Granite Street connecting Commercial and South Commercial streets.
  • A new road and bridge extending from South Commercial Street behind the baseball stadium over the active railroad to Elm Street.
  • A new road extension on the opposite side of Elm Street, where the new bridge terminates at Gas Street, to provide an alternative connection to South Willow Street with a new bridge over the abandoned railroad corridor,
  • A new pedestrian and bicycle path along the abandoned railroad corridor connecting Queen City Avenue and Elm Street,
  • A new roundabout replacing the intersection and signals at the Queen City Avenue-South Willow Street intersection.

In September 2023, the city received notice from the New Hampshire Division of the Federal Highway Administration that it had completed its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions.

Completion of the review process affirms the project will have minimal impact on the environment and allows it to progress to the final design phase, bringing the project one step closer to breaking ground.

Design plans are expected to be ready for construction by September 2024, with all construction completed by September 2029.

For more information about the RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities project, visit