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Manchester's President Road residents vent their frustration with Walmart traffic plan

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 04. 2016 10:42PM
A gate blocks traffic on Gold Street in Manchester in April 2016. (UNION LEADER FILE)

MANCHESTER — City aldermen heard from a steady stream of Ward 9 residents Tuesday night, expressing frustration with heavy vehicular traffic through the President Road neighborhood since a new Walmart opened on Gold Street last spring, and a lack of “solutions” offered to address the situation.

Several residents of President Road spoke in opposition to a new plan proposed by Ward 9 Alderman Barbara Shaw to make the street one-way headed westerly rather than block it off with a gate. Others from surrounding streets spoke out against gating President Road.

“The city of Manchester has ruined our neighborhood,” said Colleen Duhamel of President Road. “The only answer to our problem is a gate.”

“Gating President Road is not the answer,” said John St. Hillaire of Murphy Street. “It will help 24 houses, and decimate hundreds of others.”

Shaw unveiled her plan on Monday at a meeting of the Aldermanic Committee on Public Safety, Health and Traffic.

“This plan is the fastest relief for President Road, and is a compromise for those that do not want another gate,” said Shaw.

President Road residents have spoken out regularly about the high volume of traffic through their neighborhood, which became the favored route to Walmart when the retail giant opened its newest location back on April 20.

Earlier this year, aldermen voted to recommend moving a gate installed on Gold Street, placing it farther westerly to allow traffic to use Bradley Street.

On Monday, Shaw discussed some early numbers she attributes to traffic counts performed after the gate was moved.

Shaw said on Monday President Road experienced 1,675 vehicle trips per day before the Walmart opening.

Shaw said that number jumped to 4,980 a day after the store opened, and dropped slightly to 4,035 after the gate was moved. She believes her new plan would reduce the number of trips along President Road to 2,020 a day.

Aldermen have scheduled a special meeting next Tuesday to discuss her proposal, including a presentation by city engineers and the legal ramifications of installing a gate on President Road. The meeting will be Oct. 11 at 4:30 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall.

Dozens of residents attended Tuesday’s board meeting to voice their opinion prior to next week’s session.

“I think this has been going on way too long,” said Rick Robertson of President Road. “I don’t believe that gating President Road is going to be the answer, however that is my choice. You have gates at Gold and Sewall — if you gate one, gate them all.”

“Either all the gates are up, and block President Road as well, or take all the gates down,” said Dan Leclair of President Road.

St. Hillaire said outside of President Road, he has talked with many residents opposed to putting in another gate.

“I visited 75 homes,” said St. Hillaire. “I got 75 signatures to stop the gating of President Road.”

On Monday, aldermen received an email from Kevin McDevitt of McDevitt Trucks Inc., located at 1 Mack Ave., stating his opposition to gating President Road.

“Gating or making President Road one-way will force all of our employee and customer traffic to run the South Willow Street gauntlet and will damage our business irreparably,” McDevitt said.

Aldermen agreed to take no action, either on Shaw’s plan or gating President Road, until the Oct. 11 meeting.

Transportation Local and County Government Manchester

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