Roundabout frowned about

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, October 19, 2017 9:32AM

Many residents and business owners spoke against the idea of a potential roundabout at Jaffrey’s five-way downtown intersection at a public meeting Tuesday.

More than 100 people showed up to the first of three public informational meetings to be held in the coming year, designed to give the public input on any potential changes or reconfigurations in the downtown area.

“If it costs very, very little – which I expect it does – to change the signals and give it a six month try or a three month try… and see if that solves the problem, doesn’t that make sense to try before everything else is done at a much higher cost?” asked Marc Tieger, at the meeting. 

The town of Jaffrey was recently awarded $8.8 million in federal funds to address traffic, pedestrian, and other concerns in the downtown area after being placed on the New Hampshire Department of Transportation’s ten-year plan. 

Marty Kennedy, who represents project engineering firm VHB, said that no proposals have been ruled out or officially proposed at this time. 

The major problem with the current configuration, according to Kennedy, is that there isn’t enough distance between the five-way and four-way intersections downtown, meaning that traffic becomes congested during busier times. Kennedy also said that the length of crosswalks is intimidating to pedestrians. 

“You have a beautiful downtown, but there’s not a lot of people,” said Kennedy, who said the project is currently slated for 2022, according to the current ten-year-plan. “There are open businesses with no cars in front of them.”

Kennedy said data has already been collected for potential proposals and now different proposals will be developed.

Proposals that must be considered, according to Kennedy, would be keeping things as is, doing things to reduce traffic downtown like creating a public transportation system, low-cost solutions like reconfiguring the lights downtown, and physical changes like creating a roundabout. 

Many in attendance discussed their distaste of a potential roundabout in town, instead preferring a lower-cost plan with smaller changes.

Monique Coll, part-owner of Ken and Monique Transport, and Joel Weissman, owner of Community Transportation – a bus company that provides transit for Jaffrey-Rindge students – both said they were concerned about getting larger vehicles through a roundabout. 

“I feel like we have to slow traffic in the downtown area,” said Weissman, who said he would be happy to supply a bus to test out potential downtown configurations. 

Renee Sangermano, who has three children, said she was excited about the thought of a more pedestrian-friendly downtown, as her children “find it incredibly intimidating” to walk to school and back.

Kork Little, who owns businesses in the downtown area, said that she wanted people to keep an open mind about potential solutions, but added that she felt that a roundabout coupled with a bridge built across the Contoocook River to connect Blake Street to Route 202 would be bad for downtown businesses as traffic would be diverted from the area. 

“Hillsborough’s downtown died when they did their bypass,” said Little. “I hope we come up with another alternative.”

There will be two more informational meetings in the future to discuss potential options, and a final public hearing after the potential ideas are narrowed to one. Kennedy said public input is a very important part of the project and that nothing will move forward without the support of the community. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.