East Concord roundabout still waiting for utility poles to be moved

  • A plan of the roundabout coming to East Concord. Actual construction is slated to begin in 2017.

Monitor staff
Published: 11/16/2016 12:44:36 AM

A long-anticipated roundabout in East Concord that was supposed to be finished by now is still being anticipated, after preparatory work was bumped by the Main Street reconstruction.

The roundabout, which has been a topic of conversation for at least 15 years, will replace an awkward intersection where three roads – Mountain Road, Shawmut Street and East Side Drive – meet the west off-ramp from Exit 16 of Interstate 93.

“What delayed that project was largely utilities that need to be relocated to put the roundabout in,” said Deputy City Manager Carlos Baía. “There are a limited number of utility crews in area, and they were also working on the Main Street project, particularly on South Main to bury the utility lines.”

The utility lines will not be buried at the roundabout, but the poles carrying electricity, telephone, cable TV and data lines must be shifted so as not to block the new roadway. Moving utility poles requires the various companies that own the different lines to all schedule the work, which can take time.

Baía said the goal is to get the utility work done in the area this winter, so that construction can start in the spring. It is expected to take about 12 weeks, he said, and to be done by the middle of 2017.

The city put the project to bid and the total cost including design is about $1.28 million. That’s $375,000 more than the $945,712 previously earmarked for the project; the city council is expected to schedule a December public hearing on whether to cover the difference with traffic impact fee funds, which are collected from developers to offset roadway costs caused by the development.

The idea of putting a roundabout at this location dates to 2000, when the state rebuilt the bridge over I-93 at Exit 16. In 2007, the city presented various options and the idea of a roundabout eventually drew support – partly because it presents more landscaping possibilities to make a more elegant entryway to East Concord.

Concord, like many cities, has replaced a number of four-way intersections with roundabouts in the past decade – although it’s nowhere near the city of Carmel, Ind., which is the population of Nashua but just installed its 100th roundabout.

In the right location, roundabouts can provide better traffic flow than intersections, since vehicles don’t need to halt for stop signs or traffic lights, and can lead to fewer accidents because vehicles are not traveling at right angles.

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

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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