My Turn: Damage from Langley Parkway plan would be great
Recently the former and current CEOs of Concord Hospital said they support building Phase 3 of the Langley Parkway and are longtime partners with the city to get the parkway built (“Hospital leaders push parkway,” Monitor front page, Jan. 18).
The article indicated that engineers estimate a reduction in travel time to the hospital will be 8 to 12 minutes when using the new parkway. What wasn’t offered was the lower range of time savings, which engineers estimate to be predominately less than a minute up to 3.5 minutes. Since five new signal or roundabout intersections will be built on Phase 3 of the parkway, it seems possible that drivers may prefer the Franklin/Liberty/Pleasant Street and similar routes which have two roundabouts and one signal light. Also, the traffic study time saving estimates using the new parkway only go as far as the western side of the hospital. The emergency room is on the eastern side.
The parkway follows the route of the Northwest Bypass which was designed 60 years ago to connect Route 3 to Clinton Street. At that time there were no interstates and Route 3 was the road used to travel north out of Concord. The termination of the parkway at Penacook and North State streets means drivers will still be slowed by the congestion that occurs in the Bouton Street area.
Robert Steigmeyer, the current hospital CEO, was quoted saying, “Improving access to medical care for community members who live in the north and east, that really is our primary interest.” Perhaps medical facilities could be provided in Penacook or expanded at Horseshoe Pond or the Epsom traffic circle to provide better coverage for people living to the north and east.
The article reported that the extension of Langley Parkway to the Penacook Street-North State Street intersection is currently a dirt road. In fact almost half of the proposed Phase 3 road is currently paved, mostly as Penacook Street. The implication is that Phase 3 of the parkway will be like the Phase 2 section through corn fields, not affecting homeowners. There are about 21 homes, four businesses and the Concord Boys & Girls Club that abut Phase 3. Most of these buildings are closer to the parkway than the parkway is wide. The parkway will be 62-78 feet wide, depending on whether a median is built. If a median is built, residents will only be able to turn right out of their driveways.
While some streets are identified as having reduced traffic after the parkway is built, other streets will see increased traffic. Residents who will be affected by the extension of Langley Parkway are obviously concerned about having a large road with car, truck and ambulance traffic that doesn’t currently exist. In addition, many residents expect commercial and institutional development to occur along the new parkway, which will bring more traffic, pollution and noise.
Steigmeyer said he expects hospital land which abuts the parkway to remain untouched while the hospital focuses on its current campus. Since the hospital has already tried to develop its land along the parkway, it seems fair to expect that it will again if the parkway is built.
The Northwest Bypass will never exist. A northern bypass around Concord may be from Exit 16 in East Concord to Interstate 89 and will likely be an interstate highway. The Langley Parkway would become an inner-city parkway cutting existing neighborhoods in half and promoting development which will encircle the very neighborhoods the city indicates will benefit from the parkway.
The wooded area and dirt road off Auburn Street is currently popular with hikers, bicyclists, dog walkers, snow-shoers, etc. It has many woods trails, some of which connect to the Winant Park trails. The parkway is expected to cost between $12 million and $15 million. However, there is also a cost to the loss of popular recreational areas, the environment and the quality of life for scores of homeowners who will be affected by the parkway and new development. These issues are important to the city and need to be considered in planning the parkway.
(Peter Daigle lives in Concord.)