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May 19. 2014 9:46PM

Study proposed to improve eastern gateway to Nashua

NASHUA — Before completing construction of a roundabout at Nashua’s eastern border with Hudson, city officials this week will review a proposed planning study for additional improvements to the busy East Hollis Street area.

The planning study, set to cost up to $140,000, will outline alternatives and select a recommended plan to beautify the corridor that leads to the city’s downtown district.

At the end of last year, aldermen approved the $3.6 million roundabout — paid for with a New Hampshire Department of Transportation grant — at the intersection where East Hollis Street and Canal Street meet Bridge Street, with Mayor Donnalee Lozeau saying the roundabout will serve as a catalyst for a transit-oriented district in that area of the city.

The Board of Public Works is set to review a proposed contract with STV Incorporated of Boston, to conduct a planning study to examine and make recommendations on how to improve the eastern gateway into the city, including what modifications can be made to alleviate flooding, by improving the function and current use of a pump station, an emergency overflow basin that is part of the levee flood control system and treatment of stormwater.

In the city’s request for proposals, traffic congestion at the corridor was highlighted, as well as underutilized parcels resulting in a “visually unappealing entrance to the city,” says the document.

“The consultant shall develop in concept a visual anchor and gateway theme to clearly identify this area as the northeastern East Hollis Street gateway to the City of Nashua. The enhanced gateway will provide a sense of arrival, reaffirm direction and reinforce the identity of Nashua,” says the request for proposals.

It goes on to say that vehicles coming off the bridge into Nashua should have a welcoming and beautiful area, which may include special landscaping treatments, a water feature, nighttime lighting display, monumental signing or some other type of unique structure.

“The improved gateway area represents a major transportation investment providing opportunities for redevelopment of the East Hollis Street and Bridge Street corridors,” it states, mentioning the nearby Renaissance Downtowns housing project, and the city’s previous $1.4 million acquisition of two nearby parcels at 25 Crown St. that will be used as a park-and-ride facility and potentially for a train station a few years from now.

“We are hoping we can make something remarkable here that really solves a lot of problems — not just traffic,” Lozeau said late last year, adding the roundabout could provide a great opportunity for future riverfront development. “ … It will also help us look into a transit-oriented district if this does in fact become a train station.”

The estimated total project cost — including the $3.6 million in grant money for the roundabout and related transportation improvements — is about $7 million. The planning study being proposed is expected to cost less than $140,000, with half of the funding being paid for with city wastewater funds, and the other half by Renaissance Downtowns, LLC, according to a memo written by Stephen Dookran, city engineer.

Renaissance Downtowns is spearheading a major waterfront development project nearby on Bridge Street that includes 228 apartment units and will serve as an eastern gateway into the city.

The Renaissance project includes three four-story multi-family residential buildings, a community center, restaurant with a balcony overlooking the water, courtyards, park, community pool and boulevard.

The Board of Public Works is expected to vote on the East Hollis Street gateway improvements planning study at its meeting today, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. at 9 Riverside Dr.

Construction of the roundabout is anticipated to begin in 2016 or 2017.

khoughton@newstote.com


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