December 03. 2012 10:48PM

Broad Street Parkway meeting draws critics, supporters in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA - Supporters and opponents of the Broad Street Parkway gathered at Millyard Technology Park Monday to air their opinions on the nearly $70 million roadway.

During an informal public meeting, an estimated 50 citizens stood around tables with enormous maps highlighting the future two-lane urban road, which will serve as another crossing of the Nashua River.

Preparations for the Broad Street Parkway are already under way, as new traffic patterns begin this week on Pine and Palm Streets.

"Certainly, the inner-city could use some connectivity, and motorists need to be provided with easy access in order for this area to thrive," said Peter Lewis, who has lived in Nashua since 1979. "If this is done well, it could really work."

Some remain unconvinced.

"I am not opposed to progress, but I think this money could be spent better elsewhere, like a north/south roadway providing another Merrimack River crossing," said Ed Colbert of Strawberry Bank Road.

The preliminary layout and alignment of the future 1.8-mile roadway has already been designed; the final design has not yet been determined.

Hayner Swanson, Inc. of Nashua, along with Fay, Spofford and Thorndike of Burlington, Mass., are creating the engineering design for the Broad Street Parkway from the Broad Street/Blue Hill Avenue intersection to Pine Street/Central Street.

The ultimate goal of the project is to connect Broad Street to the downtown area by allowing motorists to bypass Amherst Street via another crossing of the Nashua River, possibly attracting more business and people to the Millyard Technology Park.

"A lot of companies are looking to locate into Nashua, and hopefully some of them are going to see this new development in the Millyard area and want to relocate into Nashua's vibrant community," said Alderman Richard Dowd, Ward 2.

Although Dowd was not an alderman at the time the project was approved by voters, he said he fully supports the roadway, which he believes will alleviate traffic congestion on Broad Street, Main Street and beyond.

The roadway was originally proposed as a four-lane road, but was scaled back several years ago, according to City Engineer Steve Dookran.

While the project consists of three actual bridges, the primary bridge over the Nashua River will be about 300-feet long, he said. Dookran is also optimistic that the Broad Street Parkway will remedy traffic backups in the area of Library Hill.

Most of the land acquisitions needed for the road's pathway have been completed, but there are still about 30 pieces of property that could require small land portions to be used, according to Dookran.

The first segment of roadway construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2013, with the project completed at the end of 2014, he added.

Fred Sheldon of Grand Avenue lives within walking distance of the Millyard Technology Park.

"I see all of this historic beauty being destroyed for something that I don't think we really need," said Sheldon, who is concerned about the environmental effects of the roadway construction.

Not only will the road add noise and lights to an otherwise quiet area, Sheldon said that it will change the nature of the city.

Gene Porter, who owns a small motorboat that he takes on the Nashua River, said he generally supports the new roadway, acknowledging that afternoon traffic backups on Broad Street need to be fixed.

The city will bond an estimated $37 million for the Broad Street Parkway, and an additional $30 million in federal funds will be used.