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December 27. 2013 8:57PM

Nashua mayor says traffic rotary could be catalyst

NASHUA — Mayor Donnalee Lozeau says a future roundabout at Nashua’s eastern border with Hudson will serve as a catalyst for a transit-oriented district in that area of the city.

Last week, the Board of Public Works gave its approval for the $3.6 million roundabout at the intersection where East Hollis Street and Canal Street meet Bridge Street, and earlier this week the Board of Aldermen sealed the deal voting 11-3 in support of the project.

The roundabout was recently moved up on the state’s 10-year highway plan, spurring new life into the construction project that will be fully funded with state and federal dollars.

Some city officials believe that a roundabout, as opposed to the existing signal intersection, will help connect various properties, increase safety and improve traffic flow at the busy intersection.

Last week, Lozeau told the Board of Public Works that the roundabout could connect to the Renaissance housing project now under construction, in addition to the future park-and-ride and potential train station site nearby.

“With a roundabout here, we may have some options,” said Lozeau. “ … It will also help us look into a transit-oriented district if this does in fact become a train station.”

Earlier this year, aldermen approved a separate, $1.4 million purchase of two parcels at 25 Crown St. that will be used as a park-and-ride facility and possibly, in the future, a train station.

Also approved earlier this year was a major waterfront development project nearby on Bridge Street that includes 228 apartment units and will serve as an eastern gateway into the city.

Renaissance Downtowns, LLC, is spearheading the housing project, which includes three and four-story multi-family residential buildings, a community center, restaurant with a balcony overlooking the water, courtyards, park, community pool and boulevard.

“We are hoping we can make something remarkable here that really solves a lot of problems — not just traffic,” said Lozeau.

Steve Dookran, the city engineer, said he is hopeful that the adjacent development project by Renaissance Downtowns will coordinate well with the roundabout construction.

He is optimistic that an open retention pond at the Renaissance site will help address stormwater and wastewater issues at the roundabout location, which is about a 4-acre parcel.

Tracy Pappas, public works commissioner, voted against the roundabout. Some constituents have raised concerns about a roundabout possibly causing traffic delays during snow storms or other occasions, according to Pappas.

Although the multi-lane roundabout on East Hollis Street has not yet been designed, Lozeau said the engineering design will be important to keep traffic moving, and it may have about four or five exits.

According to Dookran, there could be additional funding available in the future to help with other transportation improvements along the East Hollis Street corridor.

Construction of the roundabout is expected to take place in 2016 or 2017.

khoughton@newstote.com


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