Work on wastewater plant set to begin

Off-leash dog area on Peirce Island closes later this month

Site work for upgrades to the Peirce Island Wastewater Treatment Facility will begin on Monday, Sept. 26, according to a press release issued Thursday by the city of Portsmouth.

On that same date, the island’s off-leash dog area will close, the city announced in a separate press release. The area will remain closed to the public throughout the upgrade project, which is expected to take four years, concluding in 2020.

The initial site work, to be conducted by Methuen Construction Company, will include the installation of a fence along Mechanic Street and Peirce Island Road, as well as a staging fence near the public pool. Temporary trailers will be located in the pool parking lot. The following week, the contractor will relocate the sidewalk at the intersection of Marcy and Mechanic streets.

Work will also continue on the Peirce Island Bridge and the sewer force main it supports. The bridge work is set to begin on Monday, Sept. 19, and continue for about three weeks. The work will result in daytime lane restrictions that will require one-way alternating traffic, to be directed by flaggers on both sides of the bridge. Pedestrian access to the bridge will not be impacted, the city said.

The Department of Public Works is considering options to accommodate local dog owners while the off-leash area on Peirce Island is closed. City staff has identified land off the Route 33 Park and Ride as a potential site to develop a new off-leash location. The area includes about five acres and has ample parking and walking trails. Assuming the project moves forward, Public Works staff will enhance the trail system by mowing, improving trails, and installing amenities.

The land’s proximity to the Hampton Rail Trail and the Great Bog area is very appealing, as this space may have further potential to serve as a walkable and bikeable connector between these public spaces, Public Works director Peter Rice said in the press release.

With a price tag of $75 million, the upgrade to the wastewater plant represents the largest project in Portsmouth’s history. The project expands treatment at the plant to a secondary process that removes organics and nitrogen. The upgrade was mandated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which says it is vital to the health of the Piscataqua River and Great Bay Estuary.

The city is holding public meetings on the third Wednesday of each month to update citizens on the project. The next meeting is on Sept. 21 at 11 a.m. in the council chambers at Portsmouth City Hall. The meetings will be broadcast on the city’s YouTube channel. More information is available at