EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 11, 2012

Plaistow gears up for Main Street work

Safety improvements planned

By Dustin Luca dluca@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — PLAISTOW — To start improving Plaistow Village, plans are coming together to upgrade the intersection of Main and Elm streets in the months ahead.

Construction barrels block an on-ramp from Main Street northbound to Elm Street, a stretch of road many residents are happy to see shut down, according to town planner Leigh Komornick.

With the on-ramp closed, traffic on Main Street will flow to where the two roads intersect perpendicularly.

The project will add sidewalks and crosswalks near Town Hall and Pollard Elementary School. The project’s cost is unknown, but an early estimate is about $250,000, Komornick said.

The town plans to fund the entire expense with a Safe Routes to School grant through the state Department of Transportation, she said. The grant pays all eligible costs for projects that improve safety for those walking and riding bikes to school.

Earlier this year, a nonprofit group of engineers and architects called Plan New Hampshire presented a proposal for improving the Main Street corridor. A traffic study identified five Main Street intersections in need of improvement.

The study suggested the Main and Elm streets intersection be turned into a roundabout, something Komornick said residents strongly opposed.

“There really wasn’t a whole lot of support for the roundabout, especially for those people who live out there,” Komornick said.

The focus then shifted toward removing the on-ramp, forcing vehicles on Main Street to use the same entry to Elm Street, she said.

The town will file a letter of intent for the funding by Nov. 5. Applications are due by Jan. 16, and the state will make its decision in June, Komornick said.

The study also identified work at four other Main Street locations — in front of Pollard at 120 Main St., the public library entrance on Main Street across from Bittersweet Drive, the intersection of East and West Pine streets, and the North Avenue intersection near the Haverhill line.

The project at Pollard may be the next phase the town tackles. Preliminary designs for the project show the road being shifted and space for pedestrians added to enhance safety, Komornick said.

“That project will be a big-enough bite of the apple for the town,” Komornick said.

If the town takes the project on, it will seek a Safe Routes to School grant, she said.

Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said the town hasn’t started planning beyond the Main and Elm streets intersection but they are considering all the options.

“We’re evaluating the entire corridor, and the Board of Selectmen has yet to really make a decision on what changes we’d like to see,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ll continue to work with New Hampshire’s DOT, and we’ll continue to look at strategies to calm traffic.”

As planning for the Main Street intersections continues, the town will begin a weeklong project on Monday to improve handicapped access to Town Hall.

The three parking spaces for the handicapped will be moved to the front of the building. There will also be curb, sidewalk and landscaping improvements, Fitzgerald said.

The spaces will be big enough for vans, chief building official Michael Dorman said.

“Based on the quotes we received, we believe we’ll be able to get this in under $25,000,” Fitzgerald said.