Two of the Local Issues that I have been involved with recently are: Noise Abatement for the Pannaway Manor Neighborhood (see Links to Docs 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, to help find funding for this noise abatement project. So far neither has been able to find a solution, however I’ll continue to work on it both with NHDOT and the local gas utiliy, Unitil. In addition, I’ll continue to submit bills that would provide for funding for this project. I am grateful to both Donna Garganta and Joan Hamblet for their willingness to come to Concord, 2 years in a row now, to testify at the hearings. The Executive Council was poised last year to increase the road tolls and was willing to consider using some of that revenue to fund noise abatement projects, however, when the Governor threatened a veto, they did not go ahead with that plan.
The situation with the Echo Ave. neighborhood has now been resolved with the help of Portsmouth traffic engineer Eric Ebby and the City of Portsmouth. An initial closure of the exit into the Echo Ave. neighborhood from the on-ramp to Rt. 16 was temporarily closed and that action was deemed successful so that it will now be closed permanently. This will make the Echo Ave. neighborhood more inviting and safer for the residents, and especially for the residents of Betty’s Dream who often use wheelchairs on the roadways, because there are no sidewalks in that area.
An additional concern in that neighborhood comes from some local businesses regarding the speed limit on the Rt. 16 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 safely. Customers of the car dealerships who enter the roadway are doing so when the traffic is traveling at 55 mph or more. This makes difficult and unsafe to enter traffic. I hope to discuss this situation with both NHDOT and the City of Portsmouth to see if a better solution can be found, e.g. keeping the speed limit at 40 mph (which used to be the case) along that entire on-ramp.