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June 7, 2013

State urges I-93 drivers to take the bus

SALEM — New Hampshire transportation officials are using Interstate 93 message boards to encourage riders to take the bus.

Messages are flashing to northbound travelers, perhaps weary from their travels to Boston, during the evening rush hour.

“Commuter bus service to Boston reduces congestion,” one message says.

Another reminds commuters of bus stops in Salem, Windham and Londonderry.

The messages have just started and can be seen Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m. on boards near the state line in Salem and at the weigh station in Windham.

A task force that looks at transit issues along the I-93 corridor encouraged posting the messages, due to the $800 million highway widening, traffic congestion and a goal of getting people to support transit options.

State Department of Transportation officials agreed it was a good idea, said Mark Sanborn, the department’s federal liaison.

“This was a result of those conversations,” Sanborn said.

Construction had something to do with the locations for the messages.

Denise Markow, program manager with the state’s transportation management center, which operates the boards, said traffic gets congested northbound near Exit 1 as the number of lanes goes from three to two.

It’s most noticeable between 4 and 6 p.m.

“Right now, there’s a traffic bottleneck that is particularly ugly on Friday,” Markow said.

So, the consensus was those locations were best to convey the idea that people could be on a bus, doing work, rather than driving in traffic.

“We said, ‘Let’s do those two boards,’” Markow said.

David Preece, executive director of the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and a member of the task force, said it’s all about letting people know there are transit choices.

“We’re using the electronic signs to remind people you don’t have to be in your car and stressed out,” Preece said. “There are options besides driving by themselves in a vehicle down I-93.”

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