Two roundabouts and two building demolitions are now part of Jaffrey’s downtown traffic improvement plan

  • Courtesy photo Courtesy photo

  • Downtown Jaffrey on Saturday. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • The Lab’n Lager on Stratton Road in downtown Jaffrey could be demolitished to make way for a traffic improvement project at Jaffrey’s five-way intersection. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Downtown Jaffrey on Saturday. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Downtown Jaffrey on Saturday. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Downtown Jaffrey on Saturday. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Downtown Jaffrey on Saturday. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Downtown Jaffrey on Saturday. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Downtown Jaffrey on Saturday. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

  • Downtown Jaffrey on Saturday. Staff Photo by Meghan Pierce—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 10/8/2018 4:42:51 PM

The current plan for downtown Jaffrey’s traffic control improvements project calls for two roundabouts.

NH Department of Transportation Project Manager Victoria Chase said Thursday that the most recently proposed plan is not set in stone, but calls for a roundabout to be constructed at the five-way intersection of Routes 202 and 124, Stratton Road, and Blake Street and another on River Street south of Red’s of Jaffrey.

“People want a vital downtown, but right now it’s clogged with traffic,” Chase said. “It is evident that we need to make improvements here.”

Two buildings would have to be removed to accommodate traffic improvements based on the current plan – Lab’n Lager on Stratton Road and an apartment  complex on River Street next to the Jaffrey War Memorial Park.

“I know the local tavern owner would like me to not impact them, but I’m not sure I can make a tweak [to the current plan],” said Chase. “We are working on it, but we’ve exhausted all alternatives.”

Other iterations of the plan impacted more properties, especially in the River Street area, Chase said.

If the project is approved by an executive council-appointed committee during a public hearing –tentatively scheduled for late winter/early spring – Chase said the state would be able to take properties via eminent domain, a process where the government can take private property for public use after the owners are fairly compensated.

“I’m not going to say that people are happy – it’s an awful thing – but it’s an amicable process,” Chase said.

Jaffrey Planning & Economic Development Director Jo Anne Carr said Wednesday that if the two buildings need to be removed, the town would work with the property owners to attempt to relocate them elsewhere in town.

“We would like to relocate the business, we are very concerned about losing a cornerstone business in the downtown area,” Carr said.

The town of Jaffrey had been looking to fund traffic improvements to the downtown area since at least 2006, as the five-way intersection specifically has caused traffic congestion and walkability issues. In early 2017, the town was awarded $8.8 million in federal funding after being placed on the state’s ten-year plan.

A number of alternatives have been discussed over the years – including a four-leg roundabout, reconfiguring the traffic lights, and doing nothing – but in May, project engineer Marty Kennedy said a single, five-way roundabout was the “lead candidate.”

Kennedy said a bridge built between Blake Street and River Street, allowing thru traffic to avoid being routed downtown to go through the four-way intersection of Main Street, North Street, River Street, was also a part of the plan.

A second roundabout was added to the plan – at the intersection of the bridge with Blake Street – as a traffic calming measure, given the geometry of the proposed intersection.

There are two upcoming meetings where the project will be discussed before the public hearing next year.

A Route 202 Advisory Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at the Jaffrey Fire Department starting at 8 a.m.

During that meeting, the committee will show drone footage and discuss results from a recently conducted simulation of the five-leg roundabout.

The simulation, held in the ConVal Regional High School parking lot last month, allowed local truck drivers and others with large vehicles to drive through a mock roundabout to ensure all could properly drive through it.

“We wanted to show heavy equipment operators that they could have safe navigation through the roundabout,” Carr said.

Carr said the only turn where issues were experienced was in turning from Blake Street to Stratton Road with a school bus. A slip lane between the two roads could be added to the plan, Carr said.

A public informational meeting will be held on Nov. 15 and allow the public an opportunity to ask questions about the plan and provide feedback. Carr said the meeting would be more like a workshop in format.

Next year’s public hearing will likely determine whether traffic improvements are made or if nothing is done, Chase said.

If the executive council-appointed commission deems that the project should move forward, construction is currently slated to begin in 2022. Chase said that if construction begins in 2022, improvements could be complete by 2024.

In the interim, Chase said the state is working to alter the light signals downtown in an effort to improve traffic flow. Chase said simply making changes to the traffic lights will not help in the long term.


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