'March madness' to hit Manchester streets
By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader
March 23. 2018 9:20PM
(Bruce Taylor/Union Leader file photo)
Manchester's Leprechaun Run for kids and the 2-mile Shamrock Shuffle race drew over 4,000 participants in 2014, according to race organizers.
MANCHESTER — City officials said they should have control of the pandemonium expected this weekend when barn builders, long-distance runners, hockey players and marching Irishmen descend upon the downtown.
On Saturday, streets in the downtown, Millyard and North End will be intermittently closed as the Citizens Bank Shamrock Half Marathon takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Then on Sunday, downtown streets will close from as early as 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. to accommodate the 2-mile Shamrock Shuffle Run, followed by the largest parade of the year, the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Parking will be tight throughout the weekend as indoor events draw even more people downtown: the SNHU Arena hosts a Manchester Monarchs game this evening and a Battle-of-the-Badges hockey contest Sunday afternoon. And the Manchester Downtown Hotel, the former Radisson, will host a reptile show and barn-building expo.
“Everyone knows this weekend is going to be a little bit nuts,” said Lauren Smith, the director of policy and strategic outlook for Mayor Joyce Craig. “There’s still going to be some closures and still some backup, but it’s not going to be the mess it was last year.”
Parking will be free in the city-owned Victory Garage on Saturday and Sunday, and the city will have a parking staffer on duty to help people park, said city parking manager Denise Boutilier. Parking is free in the Millyard, and it is an easy walk to Elm Street, she said.
She said parkers will have to pay a fee to park on Elm Street on Saturday.
“It’s going to be busy and parking on the street in the downtown area will be limited,” Boutilier said.
Last year, a weekend of March madness overtook the downtown when the parade conflicted with a made-in-New-Hampshire expo, a college hockey tournament and the road races.
It led to traffic gridlock and numerous complaints.
Smith said city officials and the Manchester police traffic division have worked to coordinate the events. For example, the parade finishes at 2 p.m., which should give enough time for streets to reopen and parking to clear by the 3 p.m. Battle of the Badges hockey game.
“The organizations weren’t talking to each other (last year). It was a huge lack of communication,” she said.
On Saturday, police emphasized that streets will be “intermittently closed” for the race.
“The Manchester Police Department and Millennium Running have worked to have secured course marshals to assist local residents on the course with navigation through road closures,” reads a city notice.
Streets around Veterans Park will be affected as early as 5 a.m.
But other streets along the downtown-North End route will be impacted only once the race starts around 9 a.m.
On Sunday, downtown portions of Elm Street and several side streets along the parade route will close as early as 11 a.m. and reopen at 2 p.m.
The parade starts at noon from the corner of Salmon and Elm streets and ends around 2 p.m. at Veterans Park.email@example.com
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