Hot Topic: Anticipation and skepticism on Loudon Road
Kinder, gentler traffic plan
Count me as someone opposed to the three-lane concept. It didn’t make sense on highways in the 1960s, and it didn’t make sense on Main Street either.
After a light turns green, there are two packed lanes of traffic coming along. Your only hope of getting out is if there is a break during the yellow phase before traffic from the other direction starts up. If all those cars are stuffed into one lane, there will never be a break unless there is an accident where the two lanes at the light try to merge to one. Recasting a left turn into a two-step movement doubles your chance of accident.
One of the traffic consultants for 2020 suggested a raised median and no left turns onto or off Loudon Road. He wanted roundabouts at Airport Road, East Side Drive and the mall, but instead you could just allow U-turns like on Amherst Street in Nashua. With a wide travel lane and a wide bike lane in each direction, timid drivers would go faster, smoothing flow and eliminating the desperate passing attempts that often result in collisions.
Loudon Road businesses will no doubt worry about the raised median, but regular customers will soon figure out the best way to get there, and they may gain customers like me who avoid the current free-for-all but might return to a kinder, gentler Loudon Road.
A confusing mess
I can’t wait to see the changes that the city is proposing for Loudon Road. Currently it’s just a confusing mess of speeding cars dashing between lanes and making sudden turns. Because I have to focus on all the other drivers, I can’t look at the signs along that stretch, so I honestly don’t have a clue as to what businesses are there. Slowing things down and making the drive a more comfortable experience would bring me back to a road I might travel once every three months and only if I absolutely cannot find another route.
A cheaper, better solution
I have followed with great interest the proposals to reduce the number of lanes on both North Main Street and Loudon Road as a means to enhance traffic flow. How do the city’s planners keep from paroxysms of laughter every time they review their brainchildren?
To put things in context, this is the same “gang that couldn’t shoot straight” who can’t figure out that traffic signals can be synchronized to keep things moving. There is also the police department which – I’ll bet dollars to Dunkin’ Munchkins – seldom if ever bothers to write a ticket for failing to yield unless a collision has already taken place, jamming up traffic for who knows how long.
If, especially on Loudon Road, the main problem is left-turning traffic, then the solution is very, very simple. Years ago UPS started routing its delivery vehicles to avoid left turns whenever possible. The company found that its drivers were traveling longer distances but taking less time and consuming significantly less fuel. Are we to believe that Concord’s traffic wizards are unaware of the UPS experience? Or perhaps they are so enamored of their own ideas that they make themselves blind to everybody else’s.
A few dozen No Left Turn signs will solve for a few thousand dollars what the “experts” have identified as a $2 million problem, and some highly visible police cars at strategic locations ought to provide exactly the right feedback to drivers who might yield to temptation instead of to moving traffic.