Sign up for the Fire Pit newsletter and receive the latest fire-side news. It's free!

Name:
Email:

Meredith NH Roundabouts

The town of Meredith, NH, where I reside, is considering installing one or more roundabouts in the center of town.

It's my belief the town Selectmen feel the roundabouts will relieve the heavy traffic that descends on the center of town during the summer months, especially on Friday and Sunday afternoons.

This heavy traffic is created by non full-time residents. Some are tourists and some are people from down south who come to the Lakes Region of NH for the weekends.

I'm a full-time syndicated newspaper columnist and always try to look at facts when it comes to a problem. Let's consider some facts.

I moved to Meredith, NH in 2008. Prior to that I was a Councilman in Amberley Village, Ohio. A Councilman in OH is the same as a Selectman in NH.

I was chair of the Roads committee in my OH village when I was a Councilman. I've chaired meetings with traffic engineers when we were considering a roundabout at the intersection of Ridge Road and the Ronald Reagan Highway in Amberley Village, OH.

When you're in a small committee meeting like this, the engineers tend to let their hair down especially when the public rarely attends. It's in situations like this where you get the real lowdown.

The traffic engineers stated in my meetings that ALL ROADS are designed for average or slightly above-average traffic flow. ALL ROADS and intersections WILL BECOME CONGESTED in periods of heavy traffic. That's a fact.

Here's an extreme example. Interstate 93 in Concord, NH is just two lanes north and south. Most of the time, it's rarely backed up with traffic, even on Friday afternoons in rush hour.

But if you travel this road on summer weekends and in October it can become a parking lot as too many people try to use it at the SAME TIME to get north or south.

You could widen the interstate highway to five lanes in each direction to handle this heavy flow, but 99% of the time it would be a waste of real estate and paving material.

Proof of the traffic engineers' statements is right here in our own state. All you have to do is be at the enormous roundabout on the west side of Portsmouth, NH any morning or afternoon.

Screen shot 2015-01-10 at 2.11.52 PM.png

I've been stuck in a lane of traffic trying to get into that roundabout on the eastbound leg of Route 16 as it enters the roundabout. Once it took me 15 minutes to get into the roundabout where drivers thought they were at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

In those situations, desperate drivers tend to take chances increasing the likelihood of traffic accidents.

Let's list some of the most important facts about the proposed Meredith, NH roundabouts:

Now let's consider some facts about the local geography:

Let's take a look at some of the financial facts about the proposed Meredith roundabouts:

Here's the bottom line if you look at the above facts.

The traffic congestion during periods of peak flow will be the same or worse with the roundabouts.

All you have to have is one or two timid tourists who are NOT FAMILIAR with the merging and aggressive tactics you need to use in periods of HEAVY TRAFFIC to transform one or more approaches into the roundabout into GRIDLOCK.

If you've never been parked behind a person afraid to enter a roundabout, you'll forever remember it when it happens to you. It's very frustrating as they hold up ALL the traffic behind them.

Aggressive driving increases in roundabouts in periods of heavy flow as impatient drivers force their way into the roundabout.

If there's an accident in a one-lane roundabout, like the ones proposed for Meredith, the entire intersection becomes GRIDLOCKED. That does not happen in a regular cross intersection as cars can navigate around the accident.

With the current computerized traffic signals at the intersection of Route 3 and 25, traffic flow through the intersections is handled as efficiently as possible. You normally don't have to wait but a few minutes before your traffic light turns green in your favor.

The roundabouts will NOT relieve the seasonal congestion. Roundabouts do NOT guarantee smooth and consistent traffic flow from all incoming roads in heavy-traffic periods. See above.

Pedestrians wanting to cross Route 3 and Route 25 now have safe crossing signals. It will be VERY DANGEROUS to cross a roundabout on foot and it will bring traffic in the roundabout to a screeching HALT as pedestrians have the right of way in NH - ALWAYS.

One thing is for sure. If the roundabouts are designed like the one just south of the McDonald's restaurant in Meredith, NH, it will cause even MORE congestion since the diameter of that roundabout is too small. The small diameter allows fewer cars into the roundabout at one time and those in the roundabout travel SLOWLY to navigate the roundabout.

The diameter of the current roundabout in Meredith was designed to CHOKE traffic and slow down cars and trucks. The fancy name used by planners is traffic calming.

Meredith RA.png

These roundabouts are currently being thrust upon communities by those in power who subscribe to planning produced by the United Nations of all places.

Now let's consider modern technology in this discussion.

Savvy travelers use smart phone and tablet apps to MINIMIZE travel time. There are free apps like Waze and SigAlert that tell a traveler in REAL TIME the BEST alternative route.

WAZE.png

These apps are causing major traffic jams in residential and business districts all over the USA. Don't believe me? Just go to Bing.com and search for yourself.

What do you think this means for the shortcut down Waukewan Street and Main Street in downtown Meredith? It's already gridlocked on Fridays in the summer. That gridlock will now spread to other connecting roads through town as the apps will show other secondary routes to be open.

Here's my prediction. Traffic on Route 3 passing the town docks will be gridlocked by people using the apps who are told to go through town on Main Street. The constant heavy traffic flow passing through town and into the roundabout from the west to continue on Route 25 towards Meredith Neck and points beyond will BLOCK all those people on Route 3 trying to enter the roundabout as they approach it from the south.

Once a line of cars enters the roundabout because there's no traffic coming in from their left, this flow blocks all the other entrances into the single-lane roundabout. Don't think for a minute that all the harried tourists or part-time residents are going to be courteous drivers and allow each leg of the roundabout a chance to merge.

You don't have to be a traffic engineer to understand or imagine this scenario.

Increased traffic on residential and business bypasses in downtown Meredith will lead to:

SUMMARY: The Meredith Roundabouts are not a great idea. They'll not solve the congestion problems. They may create WORSE secondary problems. They'll cost the citizens of Meredith MORE MONEY over time. Meredith will have to sign a legally binding contract with the Federal Government and give back all sorts of things in the future to get the money for the project.

Get involved. Contact the Meredith Selectmen and Selectwomen now. Tell them to REJECT the Roundabouts.

Consider asking the Selectmen and Selectwomen these questions:

Why are roundabouts being considered for Meredith, NH?

Can you prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the roundabouts WILL SIGNIFICANTLY relieve traffic congestion? If the answer is "Yes", can you present that documentation to me?

Who will pay to maintain any landscaping or hardscape improvements in the center of the roundabout? That landscaping or hardscape currently does not exist at the current intersections.

How will pedestrians safely navigate the roundabout at Route 3 and 25 the main intersection in Meredith?

When pedestrians cross the roundabout or the legs leading out of the roundabout at Routes 3 and 25 and cars stop for them as required by law, how will that affect the traffic in the roundabout?

Can you show me the grant documents from the Federal Government that would fund the roundabouts?

Before you vote to approve the roundabouts, are you willing to go on record that you have you read and you understand ALL of the documents that would be part of a Federal grant to pay for the roundabouts? Most of the grant instruments are hundreds, if not thousands of pages of LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACTS with the Federal Government.

Here are the Meredith Selectmen and Selectwomen that will make the decision:

Nate Torr njtorr@hotmail.com
Peter Brothers, Vice Chair twobros@metrocast.net
Carla Horne, Chair chorne@metrocast.net
Lou Kahn lkahn@nhinternet.com
Hillary Seeger hillary.seeger@gmail.com

Comments

You omitted in your blog is that neither NHDOT nor the engineering firm McFarland Johnson is advocating the Meredith advisory committee proposal. This proposal belongs to the Meredith advisory committee. The proposal for 3 single lane roundabouts is a locally generated, non-engineered plan. It will not solve the traffic congestion. No one has stepped forward to advocate that it will solve the traffic congestion issue. The advisory committee, from their select board workshop presentation, hopes it will "improve" traffic flow though common sense causes me to doubt it.

NHDOT wants a single 2 lane roundabout in replacement of the lights at the intersection. That proposal, NHDOT says would solve the traffic existing congestion. Meredith advisory committee favors their own proposal and rejected NHDOT offering.

Omitted in your blog is that NHDOT has a list of priority projects. The Meredith 3 & 25 intersection is fairly high up on the funding list. Taking funding and not solving the issue may have an effect on if or when a solution to traffic congestion can or will be implemented. My suggestion to you is this should be part of the consideration.

The blog post said: "Sales, food, room and hotel taxes generated by tourists rarely flow back to communities from the state of NH to fund capital projects like roundabouts." I'm not sure what point you are making.

Sales, food, room and hotel taxes flow to the state's general fund. The state money for transportation projects comes from the NHDOT which has designated funding (the gas tax and tolls). It isn't general fund money. Separately NHDOT generally runs a surplus which the legislature skims and puts into the general fund or transfers to other departments such a Safety not the other way around. Guess I'm just not sure how germane this is to the discussion of Meredith roundabouts.

Marc Abear on January 11, 2015 10:12 AM

Tim, you ever coming back? This nutty political season we could use your punditry and perspective.

Skippy on May 3, 2016 9:21 PM

So what do you think of Trump?

Marc on May 23, 2016 5:33 AM

I think he's going to do a great job of bringing back disenfranchised voters into the voting booths. His popularity is so simple to understand. He's not a politician and many are SICK of politicians who speak with forked tongues.

Here's my impression of Trump. He's smart - VERY SMART. He knows how to get things done. He knows the art of negotiation - that there needs to be romance in the deal for both parties.

He's gotten to where he is by building a huge team of motivated people. If you don't perform, you get FIRED.

He's a great leader - look at his popularity with the average person.

He's an expert at pushing buttons in voters' minds. The *community organizer* had the same gift eight years ago.

He's turned the system upside down at the right time.

I'm quite interested to see what's going to happen.

My last thought is this: Do NOT underestimate his skill and his determination to win. Behind the scenes he's already assembled a team of EXPERTS who know how to play hardball and who know HOW TO WIN.

Tim Carter on May 23, 2016 7:53 AM
Post a comment
PLEASE read the Fire Pit Constitution before you write a comment.








Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Please wait. Your comment is being processed ...