Town to Pursue Funds for Interchange Study

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Project Hopes to Build Transportation Center, Alter Routes 1 & 101

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, March 25, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
This map shiows the Interchange of routes #1 and #101 and indicates where a proposed transportation center and parking lot would be located if it is built.
[Image courtesy of The Rockingham Planning Commission}

HAMPTON -- Selectmen are endorsing a grant proposal that would investigate constructing an intermodal transportation center in downtown Hampton.

If built, the center's construction would reconfigure the intersection of routes 1 and 101, eliminating what selectmen called a dangerous interchange.

Board members voted unanimously Monday, March 21 to write a letter of support for the grant, filed on behalf of the town by the Rockingham Planning Commission and the state Department of Transportation.

Cliff Sinnott, executive director of the commission, told selectmen the idea of an inter-modal transportation center was first identified in the Route 1 Corridor Study.

The Route 1 Corridor Study recommends the reconfiguration of the route 1 and 101 interchange into a more modern diamond interchange without the circle turn-around.

Such a move would not only improve safety, he said, but would provide an opportunity and space to construct a multi-modal facility on areas now covered by the existing interchange.

The study envisions the center would serve as a Park and Ride lot, provide access and interconnection to both regional and local transit, and provide a connection to the beaches. Sinnott said the purpose of the hoped-for study would be to determine whether the idea of changing the road and creating such a center is feasible.

"There are a lot of unknowns about that particular parcel," Sinnott said of the land in question. "We know that it was a landfill at one point. So it may create particular challenges that would make (the project) not feasible. One also wonders what must have been going on with the road to begin with to create the current configura- tion. They must have been dealing with something. Why would the road be so complex and spread out over such a wide area?"

Sinnott said they applied for the grant at the request of the three Hampton representatives who serve on the commission, Warren Bambury, Barbara Kravitz and Mark Olson.

"This idea has been sitting on the table for a while," Sinnott said.

Sinnott said because of the time line to apply for the grant, officials went forward without the blessing of selectmen.

"I didn't want to miss the opportunity," Sinnott said. "We applied with the understanding that if you do not want to proceed, we would just withdraw the application."

The majority of selectmen, however, supported seeking funds for the study.

"This is the same road that a car flew off one of the overpasses and landed on another car and two people from Hampton were seriously injured," Selectman Rick Griffin said. "We have to take a look at everything. There is not a price for human life."

Selectmen Bill Lally agreed.

"That (interchange) has been a nightmare for years," Lally said. "If there is some improvement that can be done, then it's well worth it."

Selectman Mike Pierce, however, had concerns about going forward with the study because there would be no money to implement it. "If we redo the interchange that is going to cost x millions of dollars," Pierce said. "If we leave the interchange the way it is, there is no cost. With the state and federal government rolling in the money, the chances of getting money for this is somewhere between slim and none."

Sinnott said one of the purposes of doing the study is to determine the cost.

"The study would tell you basically how much it will cost and whether it's realistic or not," Sinnott said.

He also noted the town would not have to pay for it.

"They are not looking for money from town of Hampton," Selectman Richard Nichols. "I think it makes sense to go through with the study."

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