Developers say they have plan to ease traffic woes around Executive Park Drive in Merrimack
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
October 20. 2017 10:20PM
— Developers for a proposed 280-unit apartment complex on Executive Park Drive say they have a plan to mitigate the traffic impact.
“We know there are traffic issues down there and we intend to assist with them,” said attorney Greg Michael, who is representing 4 Executive Park Drive Realty LLC.
He said the developer plans to work with the state to review, adjust and supplement signage and traffic signals in the area around Executive Park Drive, Amherst Road, Camp Sargent Road and Greeley Street.
Up to 280 multifamily apartments are being proposed for 4-6 Executive Park Dr., the former site of the Merrimack Hotel and Conference Center that was demolished last year.
While the Zoning Board has already granted several variances to allow residential units to be constructed within the commercial zone, a formal site plan has not yet been submitted to the Planning Board.
Instead, the board reviewed a preliminary design for the project this week, which focused solely on traffic concerns. A 600-page traffic impact analysis was presented to town planners.
“Quite frankly, if you look at the numbers … our actual traffic impact at peak hours is not really that huge,” said Michael, who admits that the traffic situation in this region is already difficult.
Jason Plourde from BETA Group Inc. assisted with the traffic analysis.
“The site traffic added to the network is not going to have a significant impact,” he said. Still, Plourde stressed the importance of improving the existing conditions since vehicles are not able to smoothly pass through the area and there is frequent gridlock. Nine intersections in the vicinity of the parcel were studied as part of the traffic study.
Plourde said it is clear that the two main intersections — the Amherst Road and Executive Park intersection and the intersection that connects Continental Boulevard, Amherst Road, Greeley Street and Camp Sargent Road — are closely spaced together and have traffic signals that are not operating cohesively.
The traffic mitigation plan has several approaches, according to Plourde. The first would be to work with the state to implement a new peer-to-peer responsive traffic signal system that would enable the two major intersections to work together.
If this was utilized, the main signal at Continental Boulevard would be able to measure the existing traffic demand as it fluctuates, and communicate that information through an ethernet cable to the Executive Park Drive intersection, which could then respond accordingly, explained Plourde.
“It is more responsive, it is more accurate and it is more immediate,” he said of the new system, adding the developer is willing to pay for the upgrades.
Tom Koenig, a town councilor and representative on the Planning Board, said it was doubtful that the state would work with the developer to fix the traffic problems in the region, even with private funds being offered.
Coordinating the traffic lights will improve the traffic flow, said Robert Best, chairman of the Planning Board. The big question, however, is whether those improvements will be enough to compensate for the additional traffic from the proposed 280 apartments, explained Best.
“I am a little skeptical that despite how good these things look on paper that it will really turn out this well at the end,” said Nate Berry, a local resident. firstname.lastname@example.org