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Route 93 expansion plans bring traffic concerns in Windham

WINDHAM — Town officials, representatives from the state Department of Transportation and citizens will meet at Windham Town Hall tonight to discuss the future of the traffic light at the intersection of Routes 111 and 111A.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the community development room.

The topic of the traffic light has been a loaded one in recent months, following a state proposal last spring to remove the light as part of overall plans to rework Route 111A as part of the Interstate 93 expansion project.

The new road will run parallel to the old road, but would sit closer to the highway.

Proponents of the plan noted that the traffic light in question isn’t needed because there will be three other traffic lights along Route 111, stretching from the new highway ramp to Delahunty’s Nursery.

However, not everyone wants to see the light — or the existing Route 111A — go.

Following the state Department of Transportation’s announcement, many area business owners were quite vocal in expressing their concerns about the pending plans, fearing the change would affect their business negatively due to accessibility issues.

During the most recent public discussion on the matter, held during Wednesday night’s Windham Planning Board meeting, the majority of the board agreed that the traffic light should remain in place, with several town officials proposing alternatives.

Those alternatives include building three potential roundabouts in the area in question, or building a connection road linking the new Route 111A to the current Route 111A near the current intersection by Nault’s Motorcycles shop.

Residents and town officials alike voiced support for the alternate plans proposed.“We should continue to think outside the box,” said Karl Dubay, an engineer who lives in Windham.

Should the proposal for roundabouts become a reality, the area would boast three new intersections with two-lane traffic circles, located at the current intersection of Routes 111 and 111A and at the two routes’ new intersection.

Selectman Al Letizio Jr. said he felt the roundabouts were a strong possibility and would be a welcome and “iconic feature for the town,” though he admitted they “may not be on top of the state’s priority list” due to the likely expense and the simple fact that it complicates the project.

However, Community Development Director Laura Scott said that funding the roundabouts could be done through the town, if necessary, via tax increment financing.

By setting up a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district, the town could use future tax gains from the business-rich area to help fund current improvements, Scott suggested.

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