My Turn: The mayor is right: We don’t need Langley Parkway extension
In response to the Sunday Monitor’s Oct. 20 editorial, “Someday, we may still need Langley plan,” Concord Mayor Bouley is right: We don’t need the extension of Langley Parkway now or in the future.
It is time to remove the 60 years of uncertainty this project has created for local residents and begin a plan for the area that focuses on the residential and open-space needs of the area. We don’t need more time to figure this out. The original “Langley plan” was conceived as a limited access high-speed ring road that would bypass downtown Concord and residential neighborhoods. That plan has now morphed into a road with multiple curb cuts and intersections with a primary purpose of serving the needs of Concord Hospital, which incidentally owns most of the land along the proposed right-of-way and is paying one half the cost of the traffic and planning studies, according to the Monitor.
Although not a single traffic study has been completed on the proposed project, the city has asserted confidently in materials on its website and used at neighborhood meetings that the proposed project will save 75,000 gallons of fuel and completely eliminate neighborhood cut-through traffic. The city’s assumptions are unsubstantiated by any data, are flawed and naively assume that once the city spends $9 million to build the road, no one will use Franklin Street, Beacon Street or Auburn Street to get to the new Auburn Street roundabout.
Once a new rear access point to Concord Hospital and Interstate 89 is created on Auburn Street with multiple points for entry from all directions, it is likely that whatever problems that now exist with neighborhood traffic on School Street will simply be transferred to Auburn, Franklin and Beacon streets.
I do not share the Monitor’s belief that the residents of these neighborhoods as well as the residents of Bradley, Penacook and Rumford streets. are somehow less worthy of consideration because they moved into the area knowing that someday a road might be built. Such an argument might make sense if a project had been imminent when the property was purchased, but in the 60 years this project has been on the books both the project design and the character of Concord itself have changed significantly.
As the editorial notes, Concord Hospital barely existed in 1954. Since then, millions of dollars of residential construction have taken place in West End neighborhoods, and major conservation efforts have been undertaken to preserve open space, including a gift of land by the Winant family. A $9 million road construction project designed to bring thousands of cars through this area on a daily basis will have a significant negative impact on the property values of hundreds of Concord property owners and will diminish the recreational and conservation use of the land directly abutting the proposed parkway.
Whether the proposed Langley plan should remain in the city’s capital improvement plan is not, as the Monitor describes it, “an issue pitting recreational uses against the residents of the upper portion of School Street.” The mayor correctly identified the central issue: There is no need or desire to construct a road at a cost of $9 million that will bring more traffic to established residential neighborhoods and will destroy valuable recreational and conservation areas. That is why it should be removed from the city’s capital improvement plan.
In fairness to the many residents of Concord whose property values are potentially impacted by this project, it is time after 60 years to abandon this project.
(Leslie Ludtke lives in Concord.)