LANCASTER — Saying “it’s about time,” the chairman of the town’s Board of Selectmen is applauding Tuesday’s approval by the N.H. Department of Transportation of a roundabout to better deal with traffic at the intersection of U.S. routes 2 and 3.
“I think it’s better than what we have currently,” said Selectman Leo Enos when informed that NH DOT officials gave their assent to the roundabout proposal.
According to Ron Grandmaison, NHDOT’s project manager, the state will solicit bids for the $1.2 million construction in July 2015 with the goal of breaking ground that fall. The cost of the roundabout will be split between the federal government and the NHDOT, he said, with the former picking up 90 percent of the tab.
“I’ve seen other roundabouts and they work fine,” said Enos, adding that he’s personally familiar with the one in Weirs Beach in Laconia as well as one in Barre, Vt., “so I’m sure that this one will work for the Town of Lancaster.”
He acknowledged that the roundabout may be “just one of those things people have to get used to,” but overall, he felt it was a good thing for his community.
“I’m glad to hear that they’re going to do it,” said Enos, who noted that the intersection of routes 2 and 3 is a challenging one for motorists to navigate and that it got more so when the NHDOT introduced new signage a while back.
Grandmaison said the Lancaster roundabout will have a 23-foot wide concrete inner apron. The size will allow trucks to safely navigate it.
The roundabout has been several years in the planning and follows both an informational and public hearings on it by the NHDOT.
“We looked at stop controls, whether with a signal or stops signs, but the department has found that roundabouts tend to be a safer alternative, mainly because drivers don’t run roundabouts,” said Grandmaison. “They run red lights.”
A roundabout, he continued, “sort of takes the human factor out of negotiating an intersection” in that it forces drivers to concentrate on maneuvering through it.
“This is really a safety improvement project,” Grandmaison summed up, adding that the federal government and a number of states, New York among them, are increasingly recognizing that roundabouts “seem to be fitting the bill” in terms of slowing traffic down and getting it trough an intersection without incident.
Grandmaison said the NHDOT will improve sidewalks within the immediate area of the Lancaster roundabout and will also do an informational outreach to the local trucking industry to make sure that drivers of big rigs know how to approach and proceed through the roundabout.