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Nashua;59.0;http://forecast.weather.gov/images/wtf/small/nskc.png;2014-09-21 02:01:59
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Contract awarded to study eastern gateway into Nashua

NASHUA – A study is in the works that could help shape the future of Nashua’s eastern gateway on East Hollis Street, funded in part by the developers behind the Renaissance Downtowns project.

The city is looking to develop a conceptual design for a gateway entrance to the city where East Hollis and Bridge streets meet near the Merrimack River. The centerpiece of the project would be a new traffic roundabout at the intersection. ...

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NASHUA – A study is in the works that could help shape the future of Nashua’s eastern gateway on East Hollis Street, funded in part by the developers behind the Renaissance Downtowns project.

The city is looking to develop a conceptual design for a gateway entrance to the city where East Hollis and Bridge streets meet near the Merrimack River. The centerpiece of the project would be a new traffic roundabout at the intersection.

The goals of the redesign include mitigating traffic, improving access to areas under development off Bridge Street, and revitalizing the business area and neighborhoods near the waterfront.

Traffic on the road, which handles about 40,000 vehicles a day, routinely backs up into surrounding neighborhoods, according to a request for proposals for the study issued in March.

“Congestion combined with the
current road configuration limits access to adjacent parcels,” the document reads.

“In addition, narrow travel lanes and a lack of sidewalks make the current intersection very difficult for pedestrians and bicyclists to negotiate. With the location of this congested intersection near the Merrimack River, the waterfront area has been ignored and misused.”

The Board of Public Works voted Tuesday to recommend awarding a contract for the study to STV Inc., of Boston. The cost is pegged at as much as $140,000, consisting of $70,000 from the city’s wastewater fund and an equal contribution from developers working on the Renaissance project.

The city received a $3.66 million grant from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to put toward constructing the roundabout, which would replace the traffic lights at the intersection of East Hollis and Bridge streets.

The project dovetails with planned improvements to help control flooding in the area. The city is planning to eliminate an emergency overflow detention basin to accommodate the Renaissance project.

The Army Corps of Engineers also is requiring Nashua to upgrade a flood control pump station nearby. The Army Corps was responsible for building a levee system in 1950 that protects a low-lying area measuring 70 acres from flooding.

One of the study’s primary goals will be to develop a concept for the look of the revamped gateway, which will “clearly identify this area as the northeastern East Hollis Street Gateway to the City of Nashua,” according to the request for proposals. That could entail building a significant piece of architecture or creating distinctive landscaping, such as a large sign, a water feature or a nighttime lighting display.

“The enhanced Gateway will provide a sense of arrival, reaffirm direction and reinforce the identity of Nashua,” the document reads.

The contractor picked for the study will be asked to develop five options for review by the city. Three or four will eventually be presented for public feedback.

In terms of traffic changes, the study calls not only for the design of a new roundabout, but also a continuous system of sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and bicycle routes.

The project area stretches west from the Merrimack River to Belknap Street and Arlington Street. The area is bounded by Bridge Street to the north and Crown Street to the south.

Getting the construction projects off the ground first requires a study of the pump station and overflow basin and the level of flooding experienced in the area.

Although state grant money is available to construct the roundabout, it won’t cover the cost of the study. Nashua’s plan to pay for it consists of using money from the wastewater fund allocated for capital improvements, paired with the contribution from the Renaissance group.

The city is still negotiating the terms of the contract for the study, but the cost will be capped at $140,000.

Jim Haddadin can be reached 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).