New program seeks to ease Seacoast traffic jamsBy JOHN QUINN
Union Leader Correspondent
April 13. 2014 9:13PM
DOVER — A new organization dedicated to promoting options other than rush hour travel for commuters is working to convince businesses and communities to the north to get involved and help alleviate traffic congestion, organizers said.
Portsmouth-based CommuteSMARTseacoast will formally launch the program during a reception scheduled for April 24 at 4:30 p.m. at Redhook Brewery at Pease International Tradeport.
The organization is prompting options to reduce traffic congestion. Alternatives include car-and-van pooling, public transit, walking or biking and telecommuting.
While many businesses, area organizations and two cities have joined the effort, the biggest challenge is connecting with groups and areas where the bulk of commuters live, according to Anne Rugg, manager of commuteSMARTseacoast.
“That’s exactly the problem. Many folks are coming down from the north on the Spaulding to Portsmouth/Pease,” Rugg said.
Rugg hopes to get more groups of people involved once commuteSMARTseacoast gets underway.
“I will also be reaching out to the large employers in Dover/Rochester/Somersworth. I have pending requests with four Strafford County employers right now,” Rugg said.
Rugg said membership is free and open to any employer in the Seacoast area.
“The good news is that our services are completely free due to our government funding. Individual commuters will save thousands of dollars in gas, tolls, wear and tear on their vehicles depending on their commute,” Rugg said in an e-mail.
“Studies have shown that sustainable commuting contributes to decreased turnover/recruitment costs and tardiness,” Rugg said. “There is significant lost work time as people are stuck on the bridge coming across Little Bay, but I couldn’t put a dollar figure on that. Not to mention the stress of being stuck in traffic for 30-45 minutes as Route 16 turns into a parking lot.”
As of Friday, the following groups have joined commuteSMARTseacoast: Bottomline Technologies, the cities of Dover and Portsmouth, Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST), Chinberg Properties, Craft Brew Alliance (Redhook), Great Bay Community College, Green Alliance, Lonza Biologics, Newmarket International, Pease Development Authority, Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Rockingham Planning Commission, SIG Sauer, Strafford Regional Planning Commission and the Tenant’s Association of Pease.
CommuteSMARTseacoast is a Transportation Management Association (TMA) made up of regional employers who want to ease commuter challenges and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the New Hampshire Turnpike Authority. It is also sponsored by COAST.
“Using sustainable transportation, even on a day or two a week, will save Seacoast commuters money, reduce traffic congestion (i.e. Little Bay Bridge) and contribute to a cleaner, healthier environment,” according to a release.
While the website is under construction, it will eventually be available at: www.commuteSMARTseacoast.org.
For more information, contact Anne Rugg by calling (603) 743-5777, ext.109 or via email at arugg@commuteSMARTseacoast.org.