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July 18. 2013 8:46PM

Nashua aldermen fed up with downtown traffic jams

NASHUA — Aldermen this week voiced their frustration about ongoing traffic congestion in the downtown area, questioning the mayor about whether anything can be done to immediately improve some of the traffic flow.

Alderman-at-Large David Deane said the traffic around Library Hill and Main Street is a fiasco.

“Why can’t we fix it? Who do we call?” Deane asked during an aldermanic Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday. “It seems to have gotten worse. Something has to be done to make it better.”

Early last year, city officials approved a massive restructuring of the city’s traffic signal system to help improve traffic flow and air quality in Nashua. The ongoing project is expected to update existing traffic signal equipment that is up to 20 years old, and also improve traffic conditions by reducing crashes at 68 city intersections, according to traffic engineers.

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. of Bedford was hired to complete a congestion mitigation and air quality project on Nashua’s traffic management system, which is aimed to create more efficient movement of traffic and therefore decrease vehicle emissions.

Some adjustments to traffic signals have already been made, according to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, who said attempts to fix some of the problems have been attempted on more than one occasion. She is optimistic that the improvements, which are already under way, will remedy some of the traffic flow issues.

Synchronization of the traffic signals is expected within a year, added Lozeau. While the results may not be perfect, Lozeau anticipates that the changes will make positive adjustments that will be noticed by the community.

“I think the whole thing is one big traffic nightmare,” Alderman-at-Large Lori Wilshire said of certain downtown traffic patterns, specifically noting congestion on Canal Street.

Deane agreed, saying motorists are constantly blocking intersections and making illegal turns. The current traffic configuration downtown is “terrible,” said Deane.“I think all of us notice the problem,” said Lozeau, maintaining the future Broad Street Parkway should also remedy the downtown traffic flow.About $2.3 million in funding has been secured for the traffic signal restructuring, including $1.84 million in federal money and a local match of $460,000.

Nearly 70 intersections will be improved as part of the project.Traffic engineers said previously that retroreflective signal backplates will be installed for improved visibility, supplemental signal heads will be added, updated signal coordination will be implemented, countdown pedestrian signals will be installed and strategic lead left-turn signal phasing will be applied, some of which has already taken place.The first phase will update 49 intersections on Broad Street, East Hollis Street, Amherst Street, Main Street, Elm Street and Canal Street, while the second phase will address intersections on Main Dunstable Road, East Dunstable Road, Northeastern Boulevard, West Hollis Street and Pine Street.In all, there will be 8 miles of new cables, 68 new traffic controllers, up to 18 new traffic control cabinets, up to 50 new signal heads, 310 new pedestrian signal heads and 150 new pedestrian buttons.Traffic engineers said earlier that a combination of aerial and underground fiber optic interconnects will be constructed to obtain signal coordination, in addition to new traffic signal controllers, new malfunction management units, ethernet based fiber switches, new control cabinets and LED lights to reduce energy consumption.khoughton@newstote.com


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