New timeline laid out for Jaffrey roundabout project

  • The State Department of Transportation proposal for the construction of two roundabouts in downtown Jaffrey and a connecting bridge over the Contoocook River. —COURTESY PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/19/2022 1:11:27 PM

Demolition on buildings to make way for the anticipated construction of two connecting roundabouts in downtown Jaffrey is expected to start this spring, with the start of construction in 2024, according to state Department of Transportation officials.

The DOT held an informational session at the Jaffrey Fire Station Thursday to update citizens on the progress of the project, which has been in the planning phase since 2017.

The project includes a roundabout in the center of downtown on Main Street, at the intersection of Main Street, Route 202, Blake Street, Stratton Road and Route 124. A three-way roundabout is also planned for River Street and Route 202, which will connect to the Main Street roundabout by a bridge spanning the Contoocook River, creating a bypass for Route 202 traffic.

As part of the project, the state plans to demolish the former Lab ‘N Lager, located at 4 Stratton Road, and an apartment complex on River Street, both of which have already been acquired by the state.

The timeline for the start of construction has been pushed back several times. Demolition of the Lab 'N Lager and the River Street apartments was scheduled for this year, with the start of construction on the roundabouts next year. Now, the demolition is expected in the spring. Groundbreaking on the roundabout construction, which will be done in phases, is expected to start in the summer of 2024 and be complete by the fall of 2026.

The delays have driven up the cost, according to project engineer Tobey Reynolds. What was originally an $8.6 million project has risen to an estimated $10 million. Reynolds said the increase in cost would not further delay the project.

The town’s Downtown Revitalization Committee has been meeting with project representatives to discuss aesthetic concerns and pedestrian safety and access, including discussing ideas for access to the riverfront, walking paths, bike racks, plantings, lighting and fencing consistent with the current downtown and a welcome kiosk in the remaining space by the former Lab ‘N Lager.

Some ideas, such as a walkway underneath the connecting bridge, have not been feasible, but others have been incorporated into the plan. One aspect the state will not be incorporating is returning angled parking to Main Street, something the town had requested be investigated.

“There is simply not enough room. I know almost everyone wants that, but it’s just not going to happen, at least as part of this project,” said project manager Marty Kennedy.

This spring, the state completed preliminary plans for the bridge, and representatives met with the Jaffrey-Rindge Cooperative School Board to discuss the project and how students would cross at the planned roundabout on their way to and from Jaffrey Grade School. Currently, Reynolds said there is no plan to install lights at the crossings for the roundabouts.

Harvey Sawyer of Jaffrey said the safety of children crossing the street was vital, and that there are drivers who do not go an appropriate speed through the intersection.

Kennedy said the current plan is that during construction, there will be crossing guards around the construction zone during the start and end of school. After the roundabout is built, the intent is to considerably slow the traffic coming into the roundabout in the downtown, to about 15 mph, with clear lines of sight to crossing areas. Kennedy said the point of the project is to calm traffic in the downtown, including keeping speed down by narrowing the pavement and widening sidewalks, making it safer for pedestrians.

“This entire area is going to look different,” he said.

For updates, visit nh.gov/dot/projects/jaffrey_16307/index.htm or the Jaffrey town website, townofjaffrey.com.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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