The Planning Board expressed support for the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission’s (SNHPC) proposal to prepare an Access Management Plan for the Route 102 corridor.
SNHPC Principal Planner Tim White told the Board at its Sept. 9 meeting the plan, a follow-up to the $16,000 Route 102 Corridor Study the Commission conducted in February, will provide the Town with a tool to identify specific locations where incremental access management improvements could be completed over time through negotiations with developers.
Such improvements could include consolidating curb cuts on the corridor, eliminating unnecessary curb cuts, reconfiguring lots, properly delineating access to properties on both sides of the corridor and possibly developing internal connections between adjoining properties.
“After completion of the Corridor Update Study, we continued discussions with staff on the next steps, and a lot of our conversations centered around access management,” White said.
“This is very much a long-range planning document to look at, and an education tool for the Board and for applicants as they come forward,” Geographic Information Systems Manager John Vogl said.
In completing the Corridor Update, the SNHPC learned the 102 corridor sees traffic volumes in excess of 30,000 trips per day, a combination of local and regional traffic that results in a lot of stopping and starting, and movements to and from in controlled driveways.
“In other words you’re getting congestion resulting from this situation,” White said. “Development of an Access Management Plan would be an attempt to balance mobility and local access requirements through site-specific incremental improvements.”
The new study would require data collection, which White said was largely completed in the February study; field work, with aerial photographs; a preliminary plan and zoning review; and potentially, a closer study of high accident intersections along the corridor.
“If we include the high accident location study within the access management plan, this would be another tool in the arsenal to try to improve traffic conditions on the 102 corridor,” White said.
“The Police Department’s response has been they’re most concerned with this area in the future, looking at what conditions are there now and trying to do whatever we can to improve the conditions in the future with Woodmont Commons, when we get higher numbers of traffic. I think this would be a good planning tool,” Vogl said.
Member Leitha Reilly said clearly the Access Management Plan has the potential to help address traffic issues on the east side of Interstate 93, but asked if the detailed study on the west side of I-93 is necessary.
“On the west side of I-93, I’m concerned about duplication of work, effort, money and time spent when a lot of the Woodmont traffic studies are coming before us anyway, and we feel like we have a handle on that area,” she said.
White said the Commission could tailor the scope of the study to meet the needs of the Town, and study the portions of the corridor where the Town thinks it’s most warranted.
“This is one of the first steps in trying to identify more capital-type projects that could be eligible for Ten Year Plan funding,” Vogl noted.
“It puts us on the starting path of trying to identify where serious problems are for traffic efficiency and traffic safety,” White said.
When asked what the cost of the study would be to the Town, White said the Commission has completed such plans within its local assistance program.
“Depending on the scope of the study, it may be something we could do without a separate contract, completely within local assistance to the Town,” he said. “That would depend on the scope of the study and how much we’re including.”
Moving forward, Vogl told the Board Planning staff will consult with Police Chief Bill Hart and work with White to refine the scope of the study.