The state Department of Transportation and the city of Portsmouth will hold meetings Wednesday about proposed soundwalls and privacy fences along Interstate 95 in Portsmouth.

The informational meeting by the DOT starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by the City of Portsmouth Traffic Safety Committee meeting at 6 p.m. Both meetings are in city hall chambers. The public may attend both.

According to a proposal by the DOT:

  • Approximately 2,400 feet of sound wall would be built along Shelburne Rd, adjacent to the Pannaway Manor area along I-95 southbound.
  • Another approximately 3,430 feet of sound wall is proposed for the north side of the Spaulding Turnpike overpass and continuing north just past the Maplewood Ave overpass along I-95 southbound.
  • Approximately 1,000 feet of privacy fence will be installed along the I-95 northbound starting 300 feet north of the Woodbury Avenue overpass near the New Franklin School.

The request for sound barriers was first made in July 2019 by residents in the Pannaway Manor neighborhood, according to the city of Portsmouth.  The DOT determined Portsmouth eligible for $2.3 million in state funding. It was the first project to be approved for New Hampshire Department of Transportation's Type II Noise Abatement Program.

The Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation heard public comment over two years ago on including the sound barriers in the draft 2023-2032 Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan.

Residents of the New Franklin/Jewels neighborhood, located near I-95, Route 1, and the Spaulding Turnpike, made the commission aware of their need for barriers at the time, but it was initially turned down.

The city's engineer, Eric B. Eby, send a letter the the DOT asking if the city could build a barrier or wall instead. In his response, DOT project manager Sam Newsom explained that federal law does not allow the use of third-party funding to subsidize a noise barrier that would not otherwise meet the Department’s noise policy.

The City of Portsmouth/New Franklin School could, however, construct a noise barrier at their own cost outside the Department’s right-of-way.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via X (Twitter) @DanAlexanderNH

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