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April 29. 2013 8:21PM

Windham to discuss traffic light plan

WINDHAM - A public workshop to discuss business owners' concerns about the state Department of Transportation's plan to remove a traffic light at the intersection of routes 111 and 111A is scheduled for next month.

On May 13, residents and business owners are encouraged to attend the meeting with project engineers and DOT officials.

Earlier this month, a scheduled update on the local impacts of the Interstate 93 widening project turned into a sounding board for a number of business owners, who urged the state to consider a possible alternative.

Last week, during a discussion on whether the town should appoint a contact person to communicate with the DOT on the matter, selectmen agreed a public meeting was the best option.

Selectman Kathleen DiFruscia said she believed the entire discussion needed to take place before the public eye.

"I really think the whole process should be facilitated in a workshop environment where anyone can attend," DiFruscia said. "I don't like to do something that facilitates nonpublic involvement, especially where it affects business community as well as all the people who travel through town."

Selectman Phil Letizio agreed, though he expressed concerns that with the flow of information coming from state level, it might still be worthwhile to appoint a contact person since having the DOT deal directly with project engineers would leave the town out of the negotiating process.

"The issue is something that does require resolution, and I agree it's important to have an opportunity for a public hearing where people can give their input and get their questions answered," he said. "The DOT will be working in our town for at least two more years. We've been living with them in town for a while. ... People have raised concerns and are asking for possible change. But I don't think it's a good idea for the engineers to come in and make a proposal because that leaves us out of the process."

Chairman Phil LoChiatto said the intent wasn't to negotiate with the state, but rather to share thoughts and details on the previous transportation analysis.

Town Administrator David Sullivan said he's been in contact with I-93 Project Manager Peter Stamnas, who told him he's awaiting word back from the board.

"The prior board had told him they don't want the light, so now he wants direction from the current board," Sullivan said.

Rob Woodland, president of Woodland Design Group, said recent studies of the area's traffic suggest the existing traffic signal is necessary for both safety reasons as well as traffic management.

"Generally, it's a give and take process," Woodland said of his interactions with the DOT.

Woodland said additional meetings would likely be needed.

"Engineering is about getting assumptions, taking analysis and sometimes seeking additional information," Woodland said. "I just want to allow some give and take so a single meeting may not offer that opportunity."

aguilmet@newstote.com


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