Engineering study approved for gateway into NashuaBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
February 12. 2018 11:00PM
NASHUA — City officials are entering into a contract with an engineering firm to conduct a study aimed at improving traffic flow at the city’s eastern border with Hudson.
Last week, the Nashua Board of Public Works approved a $256,503 engineering study with McFarland Johnson of Concord — part of a larger, $3.6 million federal grant to reconfigure the highly traveled intersection of East Hollis and Bridge streets.
“The goal of the project is to improve mobility at this vital link to the city’s downtown core, and to increase capacity along a congested commuter route at one of only two Merrimack River crossings in Nashua,” said Tim Cummings, economic development director for the city.
Improvements could potentially include a multi-lane roundabout, however several conceptual alternatives are expected to be included in the new engineering study.
City officials are hopeful that the four acre site will eventually allow for a new traffic feature that will keep motorists moving in that area of the city, specifically eastbound and westbound across the bridges to Hudson and Nashua.
“I know this area has been studied in the past. We are now at the point for the state to move forward,” said Cummings, adding the entire cost of the traffic improvements are being paid for by the state, as well as the engineering study costs.
The intersection improvements are expected to increase the potential for redevelopment in that area, according to the project’s description. The engineering study will include base maps, detailed survey work, a project definition, alternatives development, public involvement, information gathering and utility coordination, states the contract.
“A base plan will be prepared during this task for the purpose of developing conceptual alternatives for the project,” says the document.
There will be several opportunities for public involvement, with a project steering committee being formed and a series of public listening sessions, according to the contract.
Cummings said there is a possibility that some land will need to be acquired for the project, although those details have not yet been determined.
With the contract now approved, the design of the traffic improvements should be completed in the fall. Bidding work will take place next year, and construction could begin in the spring of 2020, said Cummings.
“This is tentative and subject to change,” he said, adding the construction work should be completed in one construction season.
He is hopeful that the project will remain on schedule.
“It looks wonderful, and very comprehensive,” Joel Ackerman of the Board of Public Works said of the new contract and its scope of work.
Previously, some city officials said that a roundabout, as opposed to the existing signalized intersection that now exists, will help connect various properties, increase safety and improve traffic flow in that area.
Nearby, a parcel at 25 Crown St. is being converted into a park-and-ride facility, and on Bridge Street, the first phase of a major waterfront development project including 228 apartments that broke ground last year.