WINDHAM — For a while last night, the town was stuck at a traffic light.
After a series of votes and much discussion, selectmen eventually recommended 3-2 that the state Department of Transportation keep the traffic light at the intersection of routes 111 and 111A.
In a two-hour meeting where the board struggled to find consensus, selectmen Kathleen DiFruscia, Roger Hohenberger and Ross McLeod supported the motion.
Selectmen Phil LoChiatto and Al Letizio Jr. opposed the recommendation. They said they believed DOT’s plan to relocate 111A to the west, closer to Interstate 93, and install a light there would ultimately be better for traffic, businesses and residents.
The decision pleased Max Puyanic, CEO of ConvenientMD, one of the businesses located near the intersection that are fighting to keep the light.
“This is very good for us,” Puyanic said.
But Peter Stamnas, project manager for DOT, acknowledged after the meeting the selectmen’s recommendation is just that, a recommendation, and not binding on the state.
Stamnas said the final decision of what to do about the light will be made at a more senior level of the agency. He also detailed DOT’s plans to place a new park-and-ride next to the relocated Route 111A and appealed to the selectmen to support the state plan, including removal of the light.
He said vehicles still could access ConvenientMD and other businesses without the light, while keeping it would slow down travelers going through the area.
When asked the likely outcome of lights at both the new 111A and the existing intersection, he told selectmen, “Delays. You’ll sit in traffic.”
He said DOT will formally unveil the park-and-ride project later, but assured selectmen the decision has been made to place it alongside the new 111A.
Construction would happen in phases and start with 150 spaces. It ultimately could have 450 spaces and potentially a bus station. The first phase would open by 2017.