Nashua police are stepping up enforcement efforts along Main Street after receiving complaints from patrons and restaurant owners about disorderly drivers disturbing outdoor diners.
“It is extremely congested,” Nashua Police Lt. Joshua Albert said of Main Street during peak commuting hours. “We thought we would get in front of this. The last thing we want to see on a Thursday or Friday night is someone getting hit.”
Expanded outdoor dining began last month when, for the second year in a row, the four lanes of Main Street were taken down to two lanes to allow restaurants more space for tables.
Concrete barriers have been placed outside of certain Main Street establishments to keep patrons safe while dining on the roadway. While the expanded dining program has been very successful and enjoyed by patrons and restaurant owners, Albert said police want to make sure the dining experience is safe.
There have been reports of vehicles speeding, not stopping at pedestrian crosswalks, playing loud music, and revving their engines, according to Albert, who said police have also witnessed vehicles failing to stop at red lights and drivers using their phones.
“There have been numerous stops made,” he said, adding the primary goals are to educate motorists and ultimately stop the motor vehicle violations. Uniformed police officers and members of the traffic unit have been conducting a series of enforcement actions to grow awareness regarding city ordinances and educating motorists on their potentially disruptive behavior, police said.
“I suspect these will continue through the summer,” Albert said of the enhanced downtown enforcement efforts. The vast majority of the traffic stops have not resulted in tickets, but rather written warnings.
Police are hopeful that these efforts will change some of the driving behaviors taking place downtown, said Albert, adding the speed limit on that stretch of road is 25 mph. Police intend to remain present on Elm Street throughout the summer, he said.
“Overall, I do not disagree with the fact that there were concerns or criticism from some folks who disliked (expanded outdoor dining),” Tim Cummings, the city’s economic development director, said recently.
However, Cummings said the majority of residents, downtown merchants and restaurant owners are pleased with the outdoor dining program.
“As long as we can do the outdoor dining we are going to take advantage of it because we are trying to make everyone happy,” Michael Buckley, chef and owner of Michael Timothy’s Dining Group, said.
“Outdoor dining has been really good to us and I think we are serving a lot of people both outside and indoors as well,” Buckley said recently.