Two of the Local Issues that I have been involved with recently are: Noise Abatement for the Pannaway Manor Neighborhood (see Letters section-Local Topics) and the Traffic Issues in the Echo Ave. Neighborhood.
The Pannaway Manor neighborhood has been waging a battle to receive noise abatement for the noise generated by the Route 95 traffic. That mitigation, to which they were entitled to under federal law for a federal road project, should have been included in the original project in the 1980s, and certainly at least 2 more times when Route 95 was widened and modified. Many of Portsmouth's State Representatives and city officials have made attempts at forcing the NHDOT to provide the noise abatement. The most recent attempts were made by both Representative Pantelakos and myself, with visits to the Governor's office and the NHDOT.
In order to raise the profile of that neighborhood and to gain attention for the noise issue, in Nov. 2017 we invited Elizabeth Muzzey, NH Director and Historic Preservation Officer, to give a talk entitled: The Greatest Migration-Pannaway Manor and World War II” about a research project that she had completed in 1990.
We continued to lobby both Governor Sununu and our Executive Councilor, Russell Prescott, to find a way to fund our noise abatement project. Both promised to look into it, with Councilor Prescott indicating that he would be willing to consider using revenues from a toll increase to fund noise abatement projects like ours. However, even though it appeared that a majority of the Executive Council was poised to increase road tolls; after the Governor threatened to veto any such increase, a toll increase (sorely needed for all types of road projects) was postponed. Governor Sununu's office continued to suggest they wanted to help, and in April 2018 accepted our invitation to come visit on-site, by sending Harold Parker, special assistant to the governor, and Bill Cass of NHDOT to meet with us in Pannaway Manor (see Letters section-Local Topics). While the City is going through the process of qualifying for the NHDOT Type II project status, so far no other visible progress has been made. In addition to the state officials, we have also reached out to our two US Senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan for their support. Their respective aides are currently researching federal sources of funding.
The situation with the Echo Ave. neighborhood is less of a state issue than a city issue. That neighborhood is experiencing too much high-speeding vehicle traffic coming off the highway (from the on-ramp to Rt. 16 going west from the Portsmouth Traffic Circle). Many drivers also use Echo Ave. as a cut-through to get to Woodbury Ave. However, Echo Ave. is a very narrow street with no sidewalks, which is why neighbors understandably feel quite unsafe on that street and in that neighborhood. This is particularly true when it comes to children and some of residents of the nearby Betty's Dream residence, who often use wheelchairs on the roadways. Working with the neighbors and local businesses to identify possible improved safety measures, city engineer Eric Ebby has met with the neighbors several times and is currently working to pilot test one of the suggestions. In addition to the residents, some businesses have concerns about the speed limit on the on-ramp which increases from 40 mph at the traffic circle to 55 mph just before the Echo Ave. exit, making it dangerous for workers and customers of these businesses to enter the on-ramp roadway. It could not be determined when the speed limit had been raised to 55 mph from a much lower speed previously, but this would appear to be a safety concern.
Just recently, our former Portsmouth Public Library director, Mary Ann List, passed away. It was tragic to hear that Mary Ann, who I knew personally (see Letters section-Local Topics) had not been able to fully enjoy her retirement years.