Nashua explores alternatives plans for one-way streets

NASHUA – Working on a suggestion from a consultant, Nashua officials are considering possible changes to the traffic pattern on some downtown streets that would include reversing some one-way roads.

James Vayo, Nashua’s downtown specialist at City Hall, will present a plan to Nashua’s Committee on Infrastructure during a meeting Wednesday night. His pitch will be to consider a change in direction of some city streets to allow better access to parking and improve traffic from the Broad Street Parkway.

Vayo said the initial project was to look at the pairing of one-way streets, including Temple, Factory and East and West Pearl streets. Now, Vayo said he is considering keeping them one-way but flipping the direction of travel.

The switch would allow better access and potentially expanded on-street, downtown parking.

Vayo said he would have the aldermen "mull it over, get their thoughts on the initiative and see if it has merit."

The consultants, VHB of Bedford, conducted a traffic pattern analysis last year and made some suggestions based on their findings, including a recommendation the city wait to see how the downtown absorbed traffic from the recently-completed Broad Street Parkway before making any decisions.

"Our division believes the time has come and started looking at what project we can start in an incremental way to make improvements," Vayo said.

Vayo said he talked with property owners near the specific streets.

"There’s a strong need for on-street parking and a desire from businesses to maintain on-street parking," he added.

Switching them to two-way traffic was considered, but did not make sense moving forward.

In a letter sent last week to Mark Cookson, chairman of the infrastructure committee, Vayo relayed the VHB findings:

"VHB concluded that the reversal of travel on the specified one-way streets (East and West Pearl, Temple, and Factory) would not result in an adverse impact to the level of service for the area."

It was noted short sight distances, a common condition in downtown Nashua and typical of urban environments, may result from the changes to travel pattern, but overall the concept plan has merit.

VHB further noted specific geometric solutions can alleviate or fully remedy any short sight distance issues that arise. It was also noted the reversal of these one-way streets is an ideal initial project, because the changes can be executed in isolation from the larger street network.

Furthermore, it was noted that this project is appealing due to the minimal need for major infrastructure changes. If the roads in question were made two-way, he said on-street option would be lost in multiple locations.

Reconfiguring the roads mentioned would, according to Vayo, reduce the number of turns required to access parking for drivers using the new parkway.

A goal when in transition, said Vayo, is to "try to create additional value" such as possible creation of more on-street parking and providing a bicycle lane on East Pearl and Temple streets across Main Street and onto Factory Street and West Pearl street where it is able.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the aldermanic chambers in Nashua City Hall.

Don Himsel can be reached at 594-1249, dhimsel@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph_DonH.