Planning Board Receives Updated Route 102 Study

The Planning Board voted to accept the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission’s (SNHPC) Route 102 Corridor Study.

The comprehensive study compiled the findings of previous studies of the area, taking into consideration several major corridor improvements slated for the future, such as Woodmont Commons and the construction of Exit 4-A on Interstate 93.

“This is just scratching the surface,” SNHPC Principal Planner Tim White said of the Commission’s findings. “There’s a real need for a more in-depth study and a detailed access management plan to identify what we can do right now to mitigate traffic impacts along the corridor and try to improve safety.”

The comprehensive study, which is supposed to be completed every five years, cost the Town $16,000, a bargain, according to Town Planner Cynthia May.

“It was one of three bids, and the other two were triple this cost,” she told the Board when the study was initially presented at the Board’s Nov. 12 meeting. “There was a lot of staff involvement to keep the cost down.”

Londonderry’s last comprehensive study of the corridor was completed in 2000.

Visions for three separate zones within the corridor are examined in the updated study: the Commercial Zone (the portion of the corridor right off Exit 4 up to Winding Pond Road), the Transitional Zone (a portion of the corridor White said has less intensive development from Winding Pond Road to Meadow Drive), and the South Village Suburban Corridor Retrofit District (the portion of Route 102 from Meadow Drive to Route 128). Route 102 is also known as Nashua Road in Londonderry.

Reported traffic volumes are expected to increase by up to 20 percent by 2034. As development continues, feeder streets that intersect Route 102 will see increased use and improvements will be needed, according to the study.

“Our recommendations are related to the need for access management along the corridor,” White said.

As some intersections appear to be approaching capacity, the report recommends the likely need for traffic signals at Londonderry Road, St. Charles Street and Action Boulevard, White told the board during a Feb. 4 public hearing on the study.

“The spacing of signals at the intersections would be important. It would have to be developed into a coordinated signalized timing situation,” he said, noting the importance of a more in-depth study to consider the traffic signals further.

Other intersections identified as potentially needing improvements are Route 128 and Route 102; Winding Pond Road and Route 102; Gilcreast Road and Route 102; and Hampton Drive and Route 102.

Member Ann Chiampa raised concern with how improvements along the corridor would impact access to businesses.

“I want to make sure the entrances into the businesses aren’t obstructed by cars waiting in queues,” she said.

“Those specific type of access issues would be taken into consideration in a more detailed analysis,” White said.

While the Board recognizes and appreciates the need for a more in-depth traffic study of the corridor, as recommended among the Commission’s findings in the comprehensive study, May said the Town doesn’t have the time or financial resources to dedicate to such a study at this time.

“Right now we’re focused on the zoning audit. Maybe we will be able to do it next year,” she said.

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