Council OKs $107M New Bridge in Hampton, Discusses Laconia State School Sale Delay

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Paula Tracy photo

Manchester Central High School's Jazz Ensemble performed Wednesday at the Governor and Executive Council Meeting.


CONCORD – Hampton will get a new $107 million bridge over the Hampton River on Route 1A to replace a bridge that was “red listed” along with security improvements at state buildings, including the New Hampshire State Hospital where an unarmed security guard was killed last November.

The plan is to arm those guards now and create improvements to protect the patients and the public from another tragedy that claimed the lives of hospital security guard Bradley Haas of Franklin and John Madore, the man who shot Haas to death before being killed by a state trooper.

Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting also included a discussion about the New Hampshire Lakes Association and its lobbying to eliminate jet skis. Executive Councilor Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield, at first threatened to vote against a $300,000 contract with the non-profit for its Lake Host program that prevents aquatic invasives, but instead warned them against lobbying against “jet skis” as they are in House Bill 1390.

The council also discussed the continuing efforts to sell the former Laconia State School, noting the state has done everything it can to see the $21.5 million deal through, and if the developer walks away, they might lose their $200,000 deposit.

Despite the scheduled closing on the sale of the property that was supposed to be today delayed again, the council approved a lease agreement with the potential new owners of the former Laconia State School to allow the state’s E-911 dispatch center and for the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid to stay in their location on the property while a new facility for them is built.

While Executive Councilor Ted Gatsas, R-Manchester, participating by phone from Aruba, urged the two lease agreements be tabled, it was not seconded as the governor and Commissioner of Administrative Services Charlie Arlinghaus said it would not serve the state well as the agreements need to be in place for the closing to happen.

The council was hoping for a closing on that sale with Legacy of Laconia LLC on Wednesday but a spokesman for the developer said they are asking “a little more time to lock in the financing,” for the $21.5 million offer to buy the 220 acres on Parade Road in Laconia.

On Dec. 21, 2022, the state’s Executive Council voted 3-2 to enter a purchase and sales agreement to sell property to Legacy at Laconia LLC. Voting to oppose the sale were Executive Councilors Gatsas and David Wheeler, R-Milford.

The next suggested closing is for the first week of April so the new potential lender can complete the processes, “some of which could not happen until we reached this point,” said project spokesman Scott Tranchemontagne.

Legacy at Laconia has an ambitious plan to reuse the property and make it a mixture of residential units, a hotel, conference center and retail spaces.

Gov. Chris Sununu said he understands the difficult climate, noting high interest rates are impacting projects across the state. Sununu said he would be willing to work with the developer for a little while longer, but indicated the project would be in a turn-key position for other developers if the deal with Legacy at Laconia falls through.


The council approved the lower of two bids, which exceeded expected costs by 40 percent from SPS New England Inc. of Salisbury, Mass. for $107 million. The other bid, $119 million, came in from Reed & Reed of Woolwich, Maine. 

Work could begin this year.

The current bridge on Ocean Boulevard, the Neil R. Underwood Bridge was built in 1949. It opens up and stops traffic for navigation since 1999 and has been considered a “red list” bridge or most in need of replacement. It is also on the state’s 10-year transportation improvement plan. 

This new bridge will allow for navigation without stopping traffic and will increase width from 26 feet to 38 feet. It will include a sidewalk and be 48 feet above the high-water mark.


The council confirmed Andrew Livernois of New Hampton as justice of the Superior Court on a vote of 3-2. It also accepted the resignations of Superior Court Justice Amy Ignatius of Concord and Circuit Court Justice David Forrest of Temple.

Wheeler said he was not comfortable with advice Livernois gave to the people of Belknap County last year related to Gunstock ski area. Livernois was also opposed by Executive Councilor Janet Stevens, R-Rye.

The council confirmed Patrick McGonagle of Gilford as the Belknap County representative to the state’s Fish and Game Commission, replacing Marc Lachance of Gilmanton.

It also confirmed Jennifer Militello of Goffstown as Poet Laureate, succeeding Alexandria Peary of Londonderry.


About $2.6 million will be spent to update security at New Hampshire State Hospital following an incident last November in which the unarmed security guard, Bradley Haas was killed.

Lori Weaver, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said her department worked with the Department of Safety following that incident and updated safety policies at the state’s forensic hospital for adults.

Asked by Wheeler if the guards would be armed now, she said the changes include security guards armed in the lobby, which is currently under construction that predates the tragedy in November.

Warmington asked if called to the hospital floor will security be armed?

As a practice Weaver said “no,” unless there is an incident that requires it.


New Hampshire is moving away from the Velcro attached, plastic EZ-PASS transponders to an RFID strip sticker that can be attached to the windshield or the license plate, Transportation Commissioner Bill Cass told the council when addressing a contract to transfer highway funds in the amount of $5.9 million for toll system improvements at the Hooksett and Hampton tolls. The council approved the funds which will replace the current camera system.

Cass said he was not sure whether the state is already handing out the stickers instead of the transponders, but it is coming, he said. Sununu said he thought it would be an improvement from the Velcro. 

Also approved was $3.5 million for Nashua’s Mohawk Tannery hazardous waste clean-up.

A request for a pardon hearing for Michael Higley, 61, convicted of a felony falsifying physical evidence case was denied.

Correction: Councilor Janet Stevens, R-Rye, opposed the confirmation of Andrew Livernois for Superior Court in the 3-2 vote in his favor, not Cinde Warmington as originally reported. This version is corrected.

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