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This screen shot from April 24, 2012, shows the city's interactive online map of land affected by the Broad Street Parkway.
Saturday, May 5, 2012

Broad Street Parkway project coming into focus

NASHUA – The Broad Street Parkway is like a Polaroid photo, each traffic sign, guardrail and foot of concrete slurry sharpening into focus moment by moment.

Engineers are designing the parkway via that nascent approach. At this point on the cross-city roadway’s extended timeline, which stretches decades in the past in one direction and toward a December 2014 terminus in the other, 30 percent of the final design is completed, project manager John Vancor said.

That first third is the general perimeter of the road, the outline that will be colored in with detail as Fay, Spofford and Thorndike, of Burlington, Mass., completes its nearly $2.5 million work to design the 2-mile roadway and the bridge that will span the Nashua River in the Millyard industrial area.

Pushing the metaphor, think of Vancor as one of three people shaking the Polaroid to make it come into focus more quickly. Another is City Engineer Stephen Dookran. A third is Lisa Fauteux, director of the city’s Division of Public Works.

All three met Friday morning with a Telegraph editor, reporter and photographer to discuss the status of the $64.5 million roadway. Much of the discussion focused on an interactive Broad Street Parkway map the city launched recently on its website, www.gonashua.com.

As with the parkway, new details will emerge on the map as the project proceeds.

Now, it shows the outline of the road from where it connects to Broad Street near the Exit 6 DMV building, curves in the shape of a tilde just north and east of the Little Florida neighborhood, crosses the river at the Millyard and empties onto Pine Street, now being rebuilt as a one-way street headed south toward West Hollis and Kinsley streets.

Palm Street also is being rebuilt as a one-way northbound street channeling traffic toward the parkway entrance at Pine Street Extension.

The city’s interactive map also shows properties already acquired or which will be acquired for the project. Click on each property and such details pop up as the address, the owner and the acquisition cost.

While the design proceeds, construction has started with the cleanup and removal of the Boiler House in the Millyard and work on the Pine and Palm streets connection.

Next up: drainage work to be completed, borings to be drilled along the river and possibly a temporary haul road to be built along the parkway’s path so construction vehicles can access the site for the bridge.

“There’s a lot going on all at once,” Vancor said. “There’s a lot of things happening.”

One of the last details to emerge will be what affected homeowners care about the most: how the road construction will affect individual properties.

There are still properties to be acquired, although in many cases the city needs only partial, temporary access – a driveway to be graded, for example, Vancor said.

“I think a lot of people will be reassured” to see their properties will be only minimally affected, Vancor said.

Decades in the making and once envisioned as a divided four-lane highway, the project was whittled down over the years to its current configuration: a limited-access, two-lane road with a bike path. The paring was partly because of cost and partly because the state widening of the F.E. Everett Turnpike eased much of the traffic and pollution problems that spurred the proposal for the parkway.

The road now is intended to provide an additional crossing over the Nashua River, ease traffic congestion on Main Street and offer better access to the Millyard industrial area.

City and business officials cite its importance to the future financial health and safety of the city by opening the Millyard to development and providing another downtown crossing over the Nashua River that could be crucial in an emergency.

Currently, only the Main Street Bridge crosses the Nashua River downtown. The other bridges over the river are at the juncture of Bridge and Canal streets east of downtown and, to the west, on the turnpike south of Exit 6.

Throughout its history, the project has been controversial. To this day, some residents don’t buy that it’s necessary. Some of those residents, especially from neighborhoods most affected by the road, have argued the road would only serve to line developers’ pockets.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or pmeighan@nashuatelegraph.com.