NASHUA — Despite opposition from one vocal alderman, city officials this week approved funding for a planning study that will create an eastern gateway into Nashua.
The aldermanic finance committee authorized a $109,784 contract with STV Inc. to conduct an East Hollis Street Planning Study, which will coincide with a $3.6 million federal grant to build a roundabout at the intersection where East Hollis Street and Canal Street meet Bridge Street.
The study is required to develop alternatives and select a recommended plan that can then go forward to the engineering phase of the project, which is being overseen by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said the future roundabout site is about four acres, adding the new traffic feature will help keep motorists moving in that area of the city. A roundabout will also provide access to the Merrimack riverfront, and provide an entrance into Renaissance Downtowns, a major housing development project underway on Bridge Street.
With major changes about to take place in that area of Nashua, Alderwoman Pamela Brown agreed that traffic improvements should take place.
“I think we need to accommodate that with better traffic flow,” Brown said Wednesday.
Alderman Paul Chasse, Ward 6, was not convinced that a roundabout would solve any traffic congestion near the bridge.
“I am not going to support this,” Chasse told the committee. “They are a nuisance.”
Chasse said it is difficult to envision the roundabout being successful unless a similar effort was made on the opposite side of the bridge in Hudson.
“We are working with Hudson,” Lozeau reassured Chasse, saying Hudson officials are included in the project. Federal dollars have already been accepted for the project, said Lozeau, adding now it is time to complete the planning and design work.
According to the contract with STV Incorporated of Boston, Mass, the planning study will examine and make recommendations on how to improve the eastern gateway into the city, along with improvements to flooding, 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.
“The team will provide five concepts for a gateway with forms and elements of paved surfaces, landscape features and structures that respond to the various traffic strategies explored, with the goal being the creation of an unmistakably profound gateway moment marking the arrival to the city of Nashua,” says the contract.
Although STV will identify parcels that may need to be acquired for each of the five alternatives, the intent is to avoid land acquisitions for the project, according to the contract. The study is expected to take a maximum of six months to complete.
Construction of the roundabout is anticipated to begin in 2016 or 2017.
Lozeau said previously that she hopes the roundabout will serve as a catalyst for a transit-oriented district in that area of Nashua. The city previously acquired two nearby parcels at 25 Crown St. that will be used as a park-and-ride facility and possibly, in the future, a train station.