Traffic study cites Manchester's worst intersections
By KATHRYN MARCHOCKI
New Hampshire Union Leader
— At certain times of day, the Amoskeag Rotary could double as a road to nowhere.
Traffic often gets snarled in the rotary, and its tangle of local feeder roads and off-and-on ramps to Interstate 293 makes it the city’s most dangerous intersection in number of accidents — some fatal.
“Have you ever ridden it during rush hour? It’s a nightmare. And trying to get on the freeway (Interstate 293) from the Amoskeag Circle during the rush hour, you’re taking your life in your hands. There is really no area to glide into the traffic,” Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission Executive Director and CEO David J. Preece said Friday.
The Amoskeag Rotary has been the scene of at least 164 collisions — at least four of them fatal — between 2008 and 2001, according to crash databases kept by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.
It tops the list of 277 city intersections that reported at least 10 collisions in that time period.
“It is probably one of the worst (intersections) in the region because of the way it was designed and the volume of people who go through there,” Preece said.
The Amoskeag Circle has been the focus of a planning study of both Exits 6 and 7 being done by a consultant for the state transportation department. They expect to present preliminary recommendations to address problems to Manchester officials in August or September.
The report, dated July 18, will be presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen for their review and possible action.
Officials in Goffstown, Bow and Hooksett also will be informed of recommendations since any traffic changes near Exits 6 and 7 could affect those towns.
“It just kind of highlights the intersections that need some attention. We are bringing this information to each of the communities,” Preese said.
Ward 10 Alderman Phil Greazzo said it doesn’t surprise him Second Street at Queen City Avenue and Woodbury Street ranked second in the report.
Woodbury, Hancock and Second streets have virtually become on-and- off ramps to Interstate 293.
Greazzo said he has asked state transportation officials to provide better access to the highway.
“They plan to proceed by just replacing the existing bridges and roads … We weren’t too happy with that,” Greazzo said.
The second most dangerous intersection is also on the West Side: Second Street at Queen City Avenue and Woodbury Street.
Another of the worst-rated intersections is one whose sheer volume of traffic trying to get to and from commercial enterprises can make it a difficult drive.
That intersection, the third on the list of the worst intersections is the South Willow Street and Weston Road, where 78 traffic accidents were reported.
South Willow Street at Queen City Avenue and Cilley Road is the fifth ranked intersection for accidents, with 63 listed by police.
Between the South Willow Street intersections on the list, number four, is the Mammoth Road, Bridge Street, Wellington Road intersection, with 78 crashes.
The second half of the top 10, in order, are Granite, Main and South Main streets, also with 63 crashes; Beech and Bridge streets, 59; Elm Street, Lake Avenue and Granite Street with 57; Elm Street and Queen City Avenue, 52 and another South Willow Street intersection, at Goffs Falls and Huse roads, with 46 accidents.
According to the list, there are 68 intersections in Manchester at which at least two-dozen collisions were reported, according to the DOT database.
Making intersections easier to navigate safely is a task with several challenges, some financial and some because an urban landscape leaves little space for redesigning roads without expensive land-taking.
The study of the traffic problem at exits 6 and 7 is intended to develop several alternatives to the problems those interchanges cause for traffic in the area.
However, engineers working on the study have said a big issue is the way Interstate 293 winds its way through Manchester,
The highway follows the path of the Merrimack River.
Between the territory consumed by the river and its adjacent wetlands, the terrain available for reconfiguring a major highway is limited.
Alternatives for Interstate 293 include upgrading interchanges while keeping the road as two lanes in each direction, or widening the road to three lane highways north-and-south-bound.
For Exit 7, engineers have said one possibility is an entirely new interchange that would add a northbound ramp onto the highway in an area where only a direct southbound ramp is found.
On city streets, the city scrambles to find answers one intersection at a time.
Manchester Public Works Director Kevin Sheppard has said that even with state and federal contributions, the city can’t always afford the best solution to traffic problems that have grown as the population has changed and traffic has increased.
“There is no money tree for all the projects we’d like to get done,” he said in a previous interview.Union Leader reporter Bill Smith contributed to this story