Two Local Issues that have been high priorities for me are: Noise Abatement for the Pannaway Manor Neighborhood (see Links to Docs Section-Local Issues) and the Traffic Issues in the Echo Ave. Neighborhood.
However, recently I have also been involved in supporting the opening of the Spinnaker Point Recreation facility (see Links to Docs Section- Local Issues), speaking out for a street project on Peverly Hill Road (see Links to Docs Section- Local Issues) and supporting the recruitment of volunteers to the first national Study of PFOS chemicals at the former Pease air force base (PFOS chemicals are often referred to as “forever chemicals”, and were the topic of a recent movie titled “ Dark Waters”). The study is still looking for individuals who could have been affected by these chemicals at Pease either through work or by way of the daycare centers. There is also a need for a control group that was not connected to Pease. I have signed up for that control group myself, and encourage everyone who can to do the same and support this unique study, made possible through the efforts of local residents and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, to sign up by calling: 603-846-6192.
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.
Despite a visit by the Governor's senior assistant, Harold Parker (see Links to Docs Section- Local Topics), to the Pannaway neighborhood, on April 24, 2018 no action was undertaken by the Governor to assist this neighborhood. That visit included Bill Cass of NHDOT, who suggested he would work on this issue. In the meantime, NHDOT has become more involved by designating the Pannaway Manor project as their first pilot project for Type II noise abatement. That process included on-site measurements and evaluation performed by NHDOT. This first step was made possible by the efforts of the City of Portsmouth, which stepped up to fulfill all of the Type II requirements, including committing to an approximately 20% funding share. In the meantime, the gas utility, Unitil, has enhanced safety by installing extra safety barriers between Route 95 and its gas utility shed. While planning to remove that installation by the end of 2019 initially, it now appears that as the result of the pandemic, a removal will not occur before 2021.
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.
Together with the neighborhood I have continued to lobby both Governor Sununu and our Executive Councilor, to help find funding for this noise abatement project, including for residents affected by noise in the Rockingham Avenue area, where the state previously had erected a wooden stockage fence now in need of replacement. In addition, I'll continue to submit bills that would provide for funding for this project. I am grateful to both Donna Garganta and Representative Joan Hamblet for supporting these efforts in Concord 3 years in a row now, and testifying at the hearings. The Executive Council was poised in 2019 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 latest effort is an on-site visit on Aug. 25, 2021 in Pannaway Manor with representatives of NHDOT, the City of Portsmouth and staff members of our federal delegation to discuss new options for funding in light of the upcoming federal infrastructure bills pending approval in Washington. In addition, a follow-up site visitation is also scheduled for the Rockingham Ave. neighborhood, which also suffers from noise, on Sept.13.
I have also been in regular contact with our two US senators and our Congressman for their help, in light of the fact that this is a federal highway. Both Chris Scott of Senator Shaheen's office and Emma Greenberg of Senator Hassan's office have agreed to look into the matter. I am also greatly indebted to Representative Laura Pantelakos for her fervent championing of this cause, as well as Representative Jackie Cali-Pitts
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. 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 has now been 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 North 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 it 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.