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Come May, Expect Delays With Main Street Reconstruction

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
March 28, 2007

Concept (not final) and project limits for Main Street

Come May, Main Street will start getting its long-awaited facelift in a $1.8 million collaborative project between the town of Durham and the university that’s scheduled to start right after commencement.

First awarded in 2002, the project was discussed at a series of public meetings beginning in December 2004. Eighty percent of the funding, or $1.5 million, is from the Federal Highway Administration, with UNH paying $250,000 and the town of Durham contributing $88,500.

Reconfiguration of the roadway will begin Monday, May 21, and is expected to be substantially complete by the end of August.

“After the disruption of the summer, we will have a newly constructed street with new corridor lighting, bus pullouts, intersection and crosswalk improvements, dedicated bike lanes and sidewalk enhancements,” says Stephen Pesci, director of special projects for Campus Planning. “The end product should result in improved transit service and traffic flow, greater pedestrian and cyclist safety and a greatly improved gateway to the university and downtown.”

The project calls for Main Street to be redesigned from Pettee Lane west to the bridge at Cowell Stadium . The A-lot crosswalk will be redone with solar-powered flashing lights and sidewalks on the north side of the bridge will be widened.

Travel lanes along the heavily trafficked street will be reduced to 11 feet, creating five-foot wide bike paths on both sides of the road. The driveway leading to Nesmith Hall will be relocated from Main Street to College Road.

There will also be changes to walkways in the corridor in an attempt to lead pedestrians to improved crosswalks. Bus stops at the Whittemore Center and Garrison Avenue will be enhanced and a new expanded transit bay will be constructed on Main Street.

Crosswalks themselves will be shortened—in some cases as much as 20 percent—to limit the amount of time a person is actually in the street. New lighting will reduce shadows and glare, making pedestrians more visible to drivers.

Despite undergoing complete reconstruction, Main Street will remain open during the project but significant traffic delays and disruptions should be expected. An increase in dust, noise and construction vehicle activity throughout the summer should also be anticipated. There should be no significant utility outages.

Where possible, faculty, staff and visitors should make efforts to find alternate routes or reduce Main Street vehicular trips. UNH departments and programs should review directions given to visitors and encourage parking and travel away from the Main Street corridor. Wildcat Transit service will continue to operate on the route but may need to temporarily relocate bus stops.

UNH Facilities Design and Construction is managing the project on behalf of the town under contractual agreement to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

Project Scope
This project is funded under the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant program which supports the overall project focus including:

  • dedicated bike lanes
  • improved travel way configuration
  • transit improvements including bus pullouts, lighting and shelters
  • expanded and relocated sidewalks, improved visibility crosswalks
  • improved corridor and crosswalk lighting
  • Nesmith driveway relocation to College Road

Specific strategies used by this project will:

  • calm traffic to appropriate speeds suitable for Main Street’s high pedestrian volume
  • create an appropriate gateway to downtown and an appropriate front yard for campus
  • integrate design with recent improvements to the downtown portion of Main Street
  • resurface the road with improved crosswalks exploring new crosswalk standards
  • provide opportunity for future underground utility crossing replacement
  • provide improved traffic and pedestrian safety signage
  • provide improved and standardized lighting
  • improve bicycle capacity and safety

Primary project information contact Paul Henry, project manager, UNH Facilities,

2-0290 pahenry@unh.edu.

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