Roundabout is possible for Penacook intersection near proposed Market Basket at Exit 17

  • The New Hampshire Liquor Commission is announcing plans to build a new NH Liquor & Wine Outlet in Concord at Exit 17 off I-93. The 12,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Outlet at Concord Crossing on Whitney Road will be built alongside a new 80,000 square-foot Market Basket and other uses at the highly anticipated location, noted on this site map.

Monitor staff
Published: 7/14/2020 2:34:51 PM

There’s a new idea for a much-discussed intersection near Exit 17 off I-93 in north Concord that has long stymied efforts to develop the area: Turn it into a roundabout.

The City Council approved a plan Monday to design and engineer a multi-lane roundabout at the intersection of Hoit and Whitney roads in Penacook. It appropriated up to $456,000 for that effort but said that once 30%, or about $150,000, has been spent they’ll check back and see if they want to continue.

“That’s the real critical piece, figuring out how much this would all cost and determining if the City Council wants to proceed at that time,” said Deputy City Manager Carlos Baia. The city would like the intersection work done by 2022 to aid development; actual construction will costs will be millions of dollars.

A public hearing Monday on the idea drew support for this process from several speakers including Laurie Rauseo. She and her husband, David, own 42 acres where a proposed Concord Crossing development would go if the intersection is enlarged, something they have been trying to get done for more than a decade. Market Basket and the New Hampshire Liquor Commission have both indicated interest in building stores at Concord Crossing.

The only concerns raised Monday involved making it easier for people to reach the development without using a car, via bike paths and transit stops or encouraging mixed development so that people can live within walking distance of stores. Reducing the need for people to drive everywhere is part of the strategy Concord wants to adopt in order to reach the stated goal of having 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050.

Concord has long wanted to enlarge this intersection as a way to encourage development in this part of Penacook. Several complications exist, however.

Hoit Road is state-owned Route 4, yet enlarging this intersection has never been part of the state’s 10-year highway plan. So Concord would probably have to do the work and pay for much of it, since it’s too expensive to be covered by any private developer.

Further, the amount of new traffic from the proposed development would require changes to the nearby on-ramp at Exit 17, greatly adding to the cost, as well as the intersection of nearby Hannah Dustin Drive.

Those complications led a 2019 preliminary study to say that an enlarged intersection could cost up to $5 million, which gave officials pause.

A large roundabout might be cheaper and take up less land, so that the city might be able to bond the whole cost without waiting for the state. Baia said the state Department of Transportation “has agreed that a roundabout makes most sense there.”

Roundabouts are increasingly favored by traffic engineers for certain intersections because they can increase traffic flow and reduce accidents over a four-way intersection with traffic lights. Concord has built four roundabouts of varying sizes in recent years and has other roundabouts in residential areaas built by private developers.

Baia said that he suspects this plan on Whitney Road would probably be different than any existing traffic circle in the city.

“Obviously we don’t know yet but I think this is likely to be more of a hybrid function because of the way the streets are laid out,” he said. “That could be easier to maneuver through for people.”

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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