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Heights residents cool to reducing Loudon Road to three lanes

  • Traffic engineer Rob Mack listens to city engineer Ed Roberge during a public hearing at the Heights Community Center on the Loudon Road project that would reduce it from a four-lane road to a three-lane road on Wednesday, December 18, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Traffic engineer Rob Mack listens to city engineer Ed Roberge during a public hearing at the Heights Community Center on the Loudon Road project that would reduce it from a four-lane road to a three-lane road on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Traffic engineer Rob Mack points to a part of the aerial photograph of Loudon Road during a presentation at a public hearing  on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 about the project that would reduce the road from a four lane (as seen on top) to a three lane (simulated on the bottom.) Mack and Concord city engineer Ed Roberge showed plans and presented the project to over 50 residents that attended the meeting. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Traffic engineer Rob Mack points to a part of the aerial photograph of Loudon Road during a presentation at a public hearing on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 about the project that would reduce the road from a four lane (as seen on top) to a three lane (simulated on the bottom.) Mack and Concord city engineer Ed Roberge showed plans and presented the project to over 50 residents that attended the meeting.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Traffic engineer Rob Mack points to a part of the aerial photograph of Loudon Road during a presentation at a public hearing  on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 about the project that would reduce the road from a four lane (as seen on top) to a three lane (simulated on the bottom.) Mack and Concord city engineer Ed Roberge showed plans and presented the project to over 50 residents that attended the meeting. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Traffic engineer Rob Mack points to a part of the aerial photograph of Loudon Road during a presentation at a public hearing on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 about the project that would reduce the road from a four lane (as seen on top) to a three lane (simulated on the bottom.) Mack and Concord city engineer Ed Roberge showed plans and presented the project to over 50 residents that attended the meeting.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Traffic engineer Rob Mack listens to city engineer Ed Roberge during a public hearing at the Heights Community Center on the Loudon Road project that would reduce it from a four-lane road to a three-lane road on Wednesday, December 18, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Traffic engineer Rob Mack points to a part of the aerial photograph of Loudon Road during a presentation at a public hearing  on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 about the project that would reduce the road from a four lane (as seen on top) to a three lane (simulated on the bottom.) Mack and Concord city engineer Ed Roberge showed plans and presented the project to over 50 residents that attended the meeting. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Traffic engineer Rob Mack points to a part of the aerial photograph of Loudon Road during a presentation at a public hearing  on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 about the project that would reduce the road from a four lane (as seen on top) to a three lane (simulated on the bottom.) Mack and Concord city engineer Ed Roberge showed plans and presented the project to over 50 residents that attended the meeting. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

City officials faced a tough crowd on the Heights last night during a public hearing on a plan to reduce Loudon Road from four lanes to three to cut down on accidents and make it safer for pedestrians. There are about 100 accidents a year on the busy road between just Hazen and D’Amante drives, according to state officials.

Not even the project’s price tag appeared to win over critics: The state would pay 90 percent, about $1.44 million, and the city 10 percent, or $160,000.

“Are we trying to get people to stay away from Loudon Road?” asked Tom Arnold, who owns Arnie’s Place on Loudon Road and lives on the Heights. “With one lane (in each direction), are we just trying to convince people to get on (Interstate) 393 and off Loudon Road?”

Nearly 50 residents and business owners from the Heights attended the public hearing, and all nine of those who had spoken by press time criticized the project or expressed skepticism. One woman, Nuha Haddad, promised to start a petition if the city tries to connect the housing complexes on the Heights and funnel drivers onto Loudon Road by way of only one or two driveways.

As proposed, the new Loudon Road would have a single lane of traffic in each direction separated by a turning lane, as well as 5-foot-wide shoulders on each side for bicyclists. There would also be raised medians in the center of the road at crosswalks so pedestrians could “take refuge” while trying to cross the busy road, said Robert Mack, the city’s traffic engineer.

City Engineer Ed Roberge said the goal is to stop people from speeding and weaving between lanes and to reduce the number of accidents. Nearly 20,000 cars travel Loudon Road a day, and 20 percent of the city’s accidents happen there, he said.

Several of those residents and business owners who spoke last night feared the reduction in lanes would slow traffic significantly and make it difficult to make a left turn, from both the center lane and onto Loudon Road.

“I’m going to have to depend on the mercy of some driver to let me in,” said a woman who lives in Alton Woods.

The complaints are not new. The proposed lane reduction was controversial when it was first suggested by consultants in 2001. The city put the project on hold then and instead built Regional Drive in 2004 to pull some traffic off Loudon Road. And now, unlike in 2001, the state has agreed to foot most of the bill because the changes would improve safety, Roberge said.

The project still needs the approval of the city councilors, who are expected to host their own public hearing in February. If the project clears the city council, Roberge said construction would begin in 2015 and be done at night to avoid further congestion on Loudon Road.

Responding to questions and complaints last night, Roberge and Mack said they don’t expect the flow of traffic to slow significantly if Loudon Road is reduced to only two travel lanes, with a turning lane between them. And Roberge said drivers already have difficulty making a left turn. The difference is now they have to turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic instead of the one lane being proposed.

Bob Robie, a resident of Loudon Road, said he’d prefer to see a new exit off I-393 that brought traffic near Walmart instead of off East Side Drive. “I think we all would agree that there’s just too much traffic on Loudon Road,” he said. “Regardless of how we try to restructure it, there’s still a hell of a lot of traffic there.”

Teresa Gladstone said she was concerned the high number of driveways off Loudon Road would clog the stretch if there was just one lane of traffic in each direction. She proposed adding additional signed intersections to slow traffic. Roberge and Mack fielded questions and suggestions for more than two hours.

“Do we want to live with another decade of a number of accidents and delays we experience on a daily basis?” Roberge asked. “Or do we look at a creative solution?”

The city is still soliciting feedback on the plan. Comments can be emailed to LoudonRoadComments@concordnh.gov. To see details of the proposed project, visit concordnh.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3365.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323 or atimmins@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)

Legacy Comments36

Why does the city not run a simple test - place cones along both the outside lanes making it one lane in each direction, make the center two lanes turn only lanes for a couple weeks. This would take an hour to do. Solve the argument before they spend millions now and then millions later to undo it........ Why are raised mediums for the pedestrians to “take refuge” on needed - how about telling them to cross where they are supposed to and when they are supposed to. This just encourages people to run across the street causing more problems.

Well Jim, we seem to have given up on the idea of doing temporary testing these days. Folks make up their mind, spend the money, and wait and see if it will work. There is also a lot of incompetence going on. The folks with these great ideas, seem to not know what they are doing. When folks complain, they hire an outside group to try in come in and redesign the first screwed up plan. You can pretty much apply that to everything these days it seems. The folks running the show have no clue how to fix anything. Instead of doing small fixes, see if those work first, they come up with huge plans that will not work. It is like we have an epidemic in this country of incompetence and lack of common sense.

I like that idea, test it. Nice post!

Jim, that sounds like a good idea but I'll bet after 15 minutes of laying the cones down, they would all be knocked down and all over the street.

I would hope that the city would listen to the residents on those neighborhoods on Loudon Road. But as witnessed with the Bearcat and the downtown Concord rehab they will probably do what ever they please.

They don't expect the flow of traffic to slow significantly. That's great. What sort of facts back that statement up I wonder? It's probably pointless to protest, sounds to me lie its a done deal already. Just like the impending Main Street disaster.

Every other community in the state would be trying increase the number of lanes, not reducing the number. 20,000 vehicles per day is very high volume for two lanes, especially on a road that has almost unlimited access from private drives and public streets onto it. maybe their strategic plan is to create such a mess here for $2 million, no one will notice the $10 million dollar fiasco on Main Street.

I avoid Loudon Rd. at all costs, unless I'm going to get my truck washed.

What I hate about Loudon Road now: (1) anytime you make a left hand turn, either onto of off of Loudon Road, you have to go across 2 lanes of traffic. (2) Getting stuck behind someone attempting to make a left hand turn. (3) People weave back and forth, trying to avoid the left-hand turners and still stay in what they percieve is the "fast" lane. I think they think they are on the interstate and the left lane is the passing lane. I don't think a three-lane solution would slow things down. On the contrary, it should keep traffic moving by herding the lane changers out of the way.

The math just won't work with 3 lanes unless you get some of the traffic off of Loudon Rd. If Concord goes ahead and does this, they will quickly be looking to fix all the new problems with another multiple $million. There is going to be a bumper to bumper parade of cars in each direction and left turns will be performed by cutting in front of ongoing cars. This deal is only good for the designers, builders, and bodyshops.

No good solution here; too much traffic. If this happens, allow an extra half-hour to get through the light at East Side Drive.

Putting Loudon Road into three lanes is crazy. It is going to back up traffic even more. There are several multiple apartment complexes that exit out onto the road, plus housing developments. Fifteen minute waits to get out are not uncommon. Best way to calm traffic, is to install lights timed at each exit. This will allow folks the ability to exit without playing "chicken" and hoping they don't broadside someone as they leave. Furthermore, folks on side streets do not want added traffic rerouting through their neighborhoods!!Three lanes is only going to make this problem worse. "BAD IDEA"!!

only a low information democrat voter actually believes that their Big Govt gives a hoot what the citizens think about the proposal. They are going to ram it down your throats regardless. Think NObamaKare and Bear Cat as perfect examples of things the voters don't want but the democrats rammed it down your throat. That is the way they govern

Flail, do you EVER make a relevant comment? Or are you too consumed by your Konservative blinders?

said the pot calling the kettle black

So... do we call you mr. kettle from now on?

It is a relevant comment. Had they told us the absolute truth of either, people would not have supported them. Obamacare was a big lie and the Bearcat is the further militarization of police forces so when a despot is in office they can control the populace.

If the voters did not want the Bearcat, why were none of the councilors who wanted it voted out of office in November? Why was Obama reelected if the voters did not want Obamacare? Your whole post was factually incorrect.

Tillie, you know darn well that REAL Americans did not reelect Obama. His majority was supplied by illegal aliens flown over from his birthplace in Kenya who were able to massively deceive all the election officials in the nation. After which they stayed here, went on welfare, and destroyed our economy. Gosh, Tillie, don't you know ANYTHING? You are just SO low-information.

Well the millennials were a large part of his re-election and had he told them the truth about Obamacare, he would have lost. Bottom line is that had we known the truth about Benghazi, new regulations which are extreme from the EPA that were hidden until "after the election", the lies about Obamacare, the IRS, the NSA, etc. he would never have been elected.

Well I might be low information but at the least it is correct low information, better than uninformed high information.

What? Low information means that people accept whatever politicians tell them and never question it. The trust others implicitly without questioning facts or ideology.

I think you need more lanes, not less. Think South Willow in Manchester. 2 lanes with dedicated left turn lanes and signals.

Absolutely right! But then those who will benefit most from the plan - bicyclists - get nothing. Can't have that now, can we?

rje, Seriously, if you had a lot more people using bikes for transportation there would be a lot less traffic.

When does the discussion of putting plates on bikes and taxing them the same as cars start. Spending all this money for a bike lane and they ride for free. I have 2 cars and pay the tax 2X, if people want to have the road changed/improved to ride their bike then they should help pay for it. How about some laws saying they must follow the same laws as cars - stop at the stop signs, stop for red lights, etc...

So, you want more taxes and taxes on kids who ride bikes? Seriously? How much will it cost to collect and enforce it? Bike lanes get bikes out of the way of cars and reduce the wear and tear on pavement. They also provide a safe path for pedestrians in absence of sidewalks. And since your knowledge of the topic appears to be low, you will be happy to know bicycles already have the same laws of the road as cars.

Considering we already have tax clerks in every town (same as paying for a car) and we already have police, where is the added cost. Sure we can exempt kids in neighborhoods on bikes but if you spend money for bike lanes why should they ride for free. I pay to register my snowmobiles and boat, how about we exempt them also. I don’t want more taxes but why should I pay more taxes just so the bike rider pays nothing. Sounds a bit self-centered. I travel 3 to 4 days a week around the state and see bike riders going through red lights and stops signs on a regular basis. How about when you come around a corner and there are ten riders playing tour de france half way out in the road pretending to draft each other. I’m fine with a law saying bikes keep right of the “existing” white line but when you want to make road changes then it costs money and you should be willing to pay your share.

So since I already pay taxes on my cars, you think I should have to pay extra if I chose to ride a bike on a public right of way? I am not fortunate enough to be able to own a boat or snowmobile and I will not comment on whether adding a fee to their registration is fair or not, but because you want to spread your car costs to bicyclists doesn't make it fair. And just what would a bicyclist's fair share of payment be in your opinion? Please keep in mind that a bike causes virtually zero wear and tear on pavement, has a nearly zero injury/liability risk to others and a used bike might cost only $20. Just how wide do we want to cast this net? Maybe pedestrians should also pay to use sidewalks.

I think walking permits are a great idea. If someone is caught walking without a permit, off to the police station they go, in the Bearcat.

GOOD ONE!

I suspect your comment is tongue-in-cheek, but there is something I HAVE observed about more than just a few pedestrians. They cross Loudon Road in traffic and without use of the controlled crosswalks. Often they are fifty feet or less from a crosswalk, but they don't use them. That seems crazy to me. I've even seen parents with small children do it.

I meant my post about pedestrians to be in reply to Waltham Watch's comment about walking permits, but it didn't "attach" the way I wanted to.

Once school children learn how to cross a street, they need to teach their parents how to do it.

jim, When I was a kid we did have plates on our bikes. And Office Friendly came to our schools every year to teach us the rules of the road. Those lessons have stayed with me and when I'm able to use my bike I follow them. One thing that has changed greatly is that bikes are seen now as mostly exercise/recreational implements and not as transportation. I LOVED being able to use my bike for transportation. It greatly expanded my independence in junior high. But the roads now have so much more traffic zipping by I just don't feel safe. I'm thinking it sounds as if we need a lot more bike safety education. It did used to be part and parcel of our school curriculum. There's no excuse for an adult bike to not be following the traffic laws. Most of us drive so we don't even need to learn them. And yes, drivers need to respect bicyclist. Having a chip on your shoulder about it helps no one.

We should call the NH attorney generals office and see if one of the attorneys there can address this situation.

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