Stories of 2019: Jaffrey moves towards final approvals for roundabout project

  • Downtown Jaffrey Staff photo by Ben Conant

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/2/2020 8:32:49 AM
Modified: 1/2/2020 8:32:28 AM

After almost ten years, a proposal for improving Jaffrey’s downtown traffic is nearing the final stages of approval.

This year saw residents debating the latest – and likely final – proposal for traffic calming at the intersection of Routes 202 and 124. After considering other options, including a four-entrance roundabout on Main Street, and reconfiguring traffic lights, the final project includes two roundabouts, one at the five-way intersection of Routes 202 and 124, Stratton Road and Blake Street. The second would be on River Street. 

If approved, the project would begin construction in 2022.

“This project has been in the works for decades,” Jaffrey Town Manager Jon Frederick said in an interview Monday. “The issue at hand is that the 300 feet of queuing space for vehicles turning onto Route 202 are just not enough.”

That 300 feet is the stretch of Main Street which splits the two halves of Route 202. The turn from Route 202/Peterborough Street onto Main Street is also too tight for larger trucks to manage without infringing on other lanes, another issue that is meant to be solved by the roundabout. 

The proposal also includes building a bridge to connect the two roundabouts, spanning from Blake Street to River Street. This would give direct access for through traffic to River Street, bypassing Main Street.

The state has announced the need to completely acquire two properties to accommodate the roundabouts. The Main Street roundabout would require the acquisition of the Lab ‘n Lager pub, and the River Street roundabout would require the acquisition of a building housing six apartments on 15 River Street. In addition, the state would also have to acquire portions of the properties of 19 and 21 River Street, but the buildings on those properties should not be impacted. 

Because there would be fewer cars passing through Main Street, the state would eliminate turning lanes, and use the additional space to create wider sidewalks and on-street parking on Main Street and at the River Street intersection.

The project has received mixed feedback from the public, some of whom are against the design for multiple reasons, including the taking of private property to make way for the roundabouts and diverting traffic from Main Street, which vendors feared would hurt their business.

Others praised the safety improvements offered by the roundabouts and wanted the prospect of more parking and wider sidewalks in the downtown. 

Town officials have been supportive of the project, with the majority of the Select Board viewing it as a potential boost to the downtown.

“If these roundabouts go in, the flow of traffic would improve, and it would result in a more walkable downtown and spur economic growth,” Frederick said. 

Residents were able to give their feedback at multiple public information sessions with the state Department of Transportation, and the project was expected to be before the state’s Executive Council for final approval or denial by the end of 2019. 

However, Frederick said, it is now expected to be near the end of January before the Executive Council makes that decision. 

Pending that approval, Frederick said, the town of Jaffrey plans to create a citizen committee to consider downtown improvements, to make decisions about features such as the light fixtures downtown. 

 

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


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