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Traffic study is next step for Exit 17 development

  • Construction is expected to start in 2020 on a new Market Basket off Exit 17 in Penacook with a targeting opening in 2021.

Monitor staff
Published: 11/9/2019 6:34:01 PM

Like rush-hour cars at a poorly timed traffic light, progress on an intersection near Exit 17 continues to move but is doing so slowly and in fits and starts.

The intersection of Whitney and Hoit roads, on Route 4 just west of Interstate 93, has been the topic of discussion for more than a decade and got renewed attention week when Laurie and David Rauseo said that Market Basket wants to build a supermarket on their 42-acre parcel.

The announcement of a supermarket tenant for the proposed development raised questions about whether the long-stalled project is suddenly on a fast track. But no.

“There were a lot of rumors flying around. We just thought it was time to settle them,” said Laurie Rauseo of the decision to announce Market Basket’s interest.

Last month the City Council authorized the planning department to move forward on survey work around the intersection, “as preparation for what might come later,” said Deputy City Manager Carlos Baia.

The big sticking point now is a traffic study paid for by the Rauseos to determine how many cars go through the intersection from which directions and which times of day. Those details will determine how much widening or many signal changes are needed or whether a roundabout might work.

Something is needed, said Laurie Rauseo, because the intersection is already at capacity.

“Even the tiniest of traffic generators would overload it. Something needs to be done,” she said.

The state Department of Transportation will review the traffic study, which could take several months, Baia said. Their analysis will guide future actions.

The Rauseos have long wanted to build a retail and office plaza there but say the intersection must be upgraded. The complication is that Route 4 is a state road so that two entities – Concord and New Hampshire – would have to share any cost. The city placed $100,000 in the Capital Improvement Plan for designing an upgrade, which Baia said in a report to the City Council “is necessary if the city wishes to see additional tax-generating private development along Whitney Road.”

A conceptual plan released by the Rauseos shows the Market Basket, a restaurant, warehouse and office space.

The parcel is near the Wheelabrator trash-to-energy plant.

In 2011, the Rauseos had similar plans for a supermarket at this location but it ran into city-imposed size limitations put in place in 2008 to prevent competition with redevelopment efforts in downtown Penacook. Instead, they built the current gas station and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Those redevelopment efforts surrounding the former tannery site on Canal Street never managed to lure a supermarket, although a medical office building and 54 apartments are being built there.

The city has since lifted the size limitations and rezoned the Whitney Road area.

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