Roundabout plan resurfaces near Concord’s Exit 16

  • Cars move through the intersection of Mountain Road, Shawmut Street and East Side Drive near Exit 16 on Interstate 93 in East Concord on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.(ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Mountain Road southbound traffic turns right towards the Exit 16 ramps on Interstate 93 in East Concord on Tuesday, March 22, 2016.(ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Concord is circling back to plans for a roundabout in East Concord.

This summer, the city plans to build a long-awaited roundabout at the intersection of Mountain Road and Shawmut Street, near Exit 16 off Interstate 93. Neighbors first vetted the idea in the mid-2000s.

“We had a lot of discussion about traffic calming, about slowing vehicles down,” City Engineer Ed Roberge said. “That’s the message we heard then, and part of this project is to create those solutions.”

Due to other road projects, the city pushed construction on the roundabout to this summer. About $895,000 for the project was included in this year’s capital budget, which was approved last June. With design under way, Concord officials will hold a public meeting Thursday night to review the details with stakeholders from the neighborhood.

Roberge said the city is also hoping for input on landscaping for the center of the roundabout.

“We’re pulling a lot of the pavement out of there,” Roberge said. “The roundabout allows us to do things a lot differently. . . . We’ve always talked about it in East Concord village, that would be a potential gateway to that neighborhood.”

The project dates to 2000, when the state rebuilt the bridge over I-93 at Exit 16. At the time, Roberge said the city configured the existing intersection with the possibility of a future traffic signal in mind. As the years passed, the city monitored accidents and traffic in that area. 

The Concord Police Department reported at least 12 accidents in that intersection from January 2012 to December 2015 – an average of four accidents each year for the past three years.

In 2007, the city’s engineering department presented three options to the Concord City Council and the neighborhood: do nothing, build a traffic light or reconfigure the intersection as a roundabout. 

At the time, Roberge said residents preferred the roundabout design to what they perceived as “that urbanization of adding traffic signals to the village area.”

“There was some discussion against that,” Roberge said. “They didn’t really want to see the signals. Just from an operational performance standpoint, I think people saw how the roundabout was superior. . . . It was really a product of what the neighborhood preferred.”

The city’s first roundabouts were in the Alice Drive subdivision in Penacook, Roberge said; four were built there in the early to mid-2000s. 

A roundabout was added at the intersection of Liberty, Auburn and Centre streets in 2008. Another followed in 2009, at the intersection of North State and Franklin streets. And in 2015, a seventh roundabout was completed where Village and Washington streets intersect in the heart of Penacook.

“The nature of the roundabout is to keep traffic moving, albeit slowly,” Roberge said. “That certainly adds a really high level of service. We’re happy about that.”

Roberge said the city has seen a near-immediate improvement in safety at those intersections. For example, he said, the Centre Street intersection saw an average of five accidents per year before the roundabout. Some included injuries. But with the roundabout, that number has dramatically decreased.

“We’re down to less than one a year,” Roberge said. “It’s been several years since we had an accident there.”

Because the money for this roundabout was already approved, the Concord City Council does not need to vote on the project again. 

Roberge said the city plans to solicit bids for the job in early summer, and complete work on the roundabout by fall. Traffic would be able to pass through the intersection during construction, he said.

The public meeting will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of Broken Ground School, located at 51 S. Curtisville Road. 

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321, or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

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