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October 04. 2013 11:19PM

City looking at solutions for a tough intersection

NASHUA — After listening to complaints about downtown traffic congestion from city officials, Alderman Paul Chasse this week suggested that a police officer be assigned to direct traffic at Main Street’s busiest intersection.

The traffic light at the top of Library Hill on the north end of Main Street seems to be the culprit, according to Chasse, who said it is not signaled correctly and continues to cause traffic problems.The quick fix, he suggested, would be to change the traffic lights to blinking yellow and place a police officer there to direct traffic until a more permanent solution is identified. The four-way intersection near the Hunt Memorial Building is one of the city’s busiest intersections.

City officials have been addressing the traffic flow in the downtown area for several months, and approved a massive restructuring of the city’s traffic signal system last year that is designed to improve traffic flow and air quality.

Alderman-at-Large David Deane told the aldermanic Finance Committee on Wednesday that while he appreciates the ongoing project, he still wants something to be done in the interim to fix the traffic bottleneck.

“It is absolutely insane,” Deane told the committee, adding he hopes to live long enough to see the traffic signals corrected so vehicles will no longer back up on Main Street.

The ongoing project, at a cost of $2.3 million, is designed to update existing traffic signal equipment that is up to 20 years old and also improve traffic conditions by reducing crashes at nearly 70 city intersections. The project is being funded with $1.84 million in federal money, with a local match of $460,000.

On Wednesday, the committee approved a change order for $89,860 associated with the traffic management system project.

Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly questioned what the money is specifically being used for, and whether there is any proof that the changes made up to this point are working.

“It isn’t working,” maintained Deane, who is optimistic the additional product purchases will help complete the system so that immediate improvements will be noticed by motorists traveling downtown.

“This has been a disaster for us,” agreed Alderman Arthur Craffey, Ward 4, adding he continuously hears concerns from residents about the intersection at East Hollis Street and Main Street.

Chasse said the committee should approach Mayor Donnalee Lozeau to see if a traffic detail at the busy Library Hill intersection — at the opposite end of Main Street — might be feasible or beneficial.

Although Lozeau was not present for Wednesday’s meeting, she addressed similar concerns by the committee this past summer.Lozeau said previously that attempts to fix some of the problems have been attempted on more than one occasion. She is optimistic that the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality project on Nashua’s traffic management system, which is being handled by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. of Bedford, will remedy some of the traffic flow issues.

Synchronization of the traffic signals is expected within a year, Lozeau said at the time. While the results may not be perfect, she anticipates that the changes will make positive adjustments that will be noticed by the community.

The future Broad Street Parkway is also expected to remedy the downtown traffic flow, Lozeau said earlier.

In addition, a separate initiative is under way to investigate whether the conversion from one-way to two-way streets may alleviate some traffic congestion.

Hoping to improve intersection flow, strengthen transit connections and provide better access to local businesses, VHB is also in the process of conducting a separate, $75,000 downtown roadway circulation study in Nashua.

The study has been under way since the beginning of the year. The project includes data, analysis and fieldwork to identify potential strategies to improve mobility and intersection traffic flow on and around Main Street.khoughton@newstote.com


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