By John Toole
---- — PELHAM — The $2.79 million twin roundabouts project on Route 111A is under way and testing the patience of drivers.
“It’s been a problem for the taxpayers because of congestion and detours, but I think people are adapting to it,” Selectmen’s Chairman Ed Gleason said yesterday.
Pelham police Lt. Gary Fisher said he hasn’t heard drivers complain yet, but offered them advice.
“The best advice that I can give drivers is to try to avoid the center during the construction periods and seek an alternate route of travel,” Fisher said.
Construction typically is during the day, though officials did announce night work last month.
“Please use caution when driving through Pelham center, watch for signs and traffic details and flaggers,” planning director Jeff Gowan said.
Continental Paving Inc. of Londonderry is building the roundabouts in the town center.
Officials expect a big improvement in traffic once the project is completed.
“This will alleviate the traffic situation on Marsh Road when school lets out,” Gleason said.
The roundabouts are both on Marsh Road. One is next to Town Hall. The other is by the old fire station at the intersection of Marsh, Main Street and Nashua Road.
“The daily interruptions are tough on everybody,” Gowan said. “This challenges us as much at Town Hall as anyone else.”
Police, firefighters, library staff and town administrative staff all work in offices at the Village Green. School employees staff three schools along Marsh Road.
Gowan praised Continental’s work on the roundabouts.
He said delays in utility company work have kept the project from advancing more quickly.
“They could build it all this year, if the utilities weren’t so far behind,” he said.
The delays mean the project is months behind schedule, but still on track for completion next year.
“That is still the goal,” Gowan said.
Town officials expect Continental will take the work as far as it can this season.
“Continental is working diligently to get the project as far along as they can,” Gowan said. “Next week, they plan to pave Acorn Lane and will then build the roundabout located at the entrance to the Village Green. It will be paved with a binder coat and the curbing will be installed. They will build it in a way to minimize traffic disruption.”
Sidewalks and landscaping are something that may not get done this year, as the contractor waits on work by utilities, he said.
“The work probably will slow down midsummer,” Gowan said.
The roundabouts, years in the planning, are intended to improve traffic flow in the town center.
The project comes as officials are opening a new fire station and it has created excitement about the future of the town center.
Officials are looking to encourage development of shops and restaurants in the town center.
“The old fire station will be demolished next week,” Gowan said.