A highway construction project to widen Interstate 93 near Derry, N.H., is not only important to area residents, but to the state Department of Transportation as well.

According to published reports, project manager Jeff Brillhart stressed this point to members of the I-93 Advisory Task Force attending a public meeting last week to hear design alternatives for Exits 3, 4 and 5.
The state is planning to widen the 18-mile stretch of four-lane highway to as many as eight lanes, from the Massachusetts border to Manchester. The project, which will also leave enough land to allow for commuter rail service, is expected to be complete in 2010.
Brillhart said Sen. Bob Smith, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wants an environmental review of interstate highway construction to be more focused. Smith has also voiced concern about how environmental permitting issues hold up public work projects, saying he wanted the $140 million project on I-93 to "be a model."
The problem is particularly intense in New England, said Brillhart.
Rail service is not contemplated for this project, but officials say studying alternative modes of transportation is necessary.
"If we can get a lot of people into those modes of transportation, obviously we don't have to build as much on I-93," Brillhart said