State Route 101 or SR-101 is a state route in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. The road forms a major east-west route in the south of the state, running from the town of Keene through the city of Manchester to Hampton Beach on the Atlantic coast. The section between Manchester and Hampton Beach is a motorway. The total route is 153 kilometers long.
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State Route 101 at Auburn.
The road begins in the town of Keene, a downtown area in southwestern New Hampshire where several major state routes intersect. The SR-101 then runs east, past several small towns. Around the village of Milford, SR-101 forms a short bypass, designed as a motorway. Then you reach the city of Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, SR-101 becomes a freeway that becomes Interstate 293 almost immediately. To the south is the US 3 highway to Nashua. SR-101 then follows the route of I-293 and later Interstate 93. On the east side of Manchester, SR-101 exits and forms a 75-kilometer motorway to the Atlantic coast. One passes here past many small villages before reaching the coast. At Hampton Beach you first cross Interstate 95, after which the road ends in the village.
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State Route 101 was proposed in 1956 as an east-west route between New Hampshire’s north-south axes. The section of what is now part of I-293 along the south side of Manchester was first opened in 1961. Construction of the motorway between Manchester and Hampton on the Atlantic coast began in the late 1950s. In August 1960, Exeter’s 8km bypass, then as super two, opened. In 1961, a 2.5-mile 2×2 stretch opened between I-93 and Auburn, immediately east of Manchester. In 1963 the super two was extended 10 miles east to Hampton Beach around Exter. In 1965 a 5km section opened from Auburn to Candia and in 1968 a section from Raymond to Brentwood opened, both as super twos.
In the late 1960s, an attempt was made to designate the corridor as an Interstate Highway, in order to fund the construction of the two missing links between Candia and Raymond and from Brentwood to Exeter, and to upgrade the rest to 2×2 lanes. In 1970, an ambitious proposal was made for a 280-mile east-west highway from Albany to the coast, which would pass through the states of New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. This should be Interstate 92. A year later, the plan was rejected. Immediately afterwards, it was proposed to build the road as a toll road. The toll proposal was also rejected during the 1970s.
Little was done with the construction during the 1970s, apart from the doubling of 2 kilometers to 2×2 lanes at Auburn. In 1981, construction began on a 13-kilometer stretch of highway from Candia to Raymond, simultaneously doubling the route east of Exeter. Both projects were completed in 1986. However, further construction slowed down again during the 1980s, and it was not until 1993 that construction began on the missing link between Epping and Exeter. By November 1998 the bypass from Exeter, and beyond to Hampton, had been doubled to 2×2 lanes. In September 1999 the last link opened, and the remaining super-two around Exeter was doubled to 2×2 lanes. On November 16, 2000, the final section was doubled at Hampton, completing the motorway from Manchester to the coast after 40 years.