By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Town officials seem satisfied with the way construction is going on Rockingham Road.
A lot of residents and drivers aren’t so sure.
People who live in neighborhoods now being used as detours don’t like the increased traffic and they’re worried about safety.
Erika Veduccio likes to walk her son to school, but it’s not such a pleasant experience these days.
Town crews started work last week to construct a new bridge and install water, sewer and drainage utilities on Rockingham Road near South Range Elementary School. The busy road is closed from Bradford Street to Winter Hill — and will be through November.
With added detours and traffic alerts, it’s making Veduccio nervous.
“I walk my son to school every day and my younger son is in a stroller,” she said. “The traffic has really affected us.”
Not only is there more traffic, Veduccio said, but vehicles are taking the required detours through many of the quiet neighborhoods to get from one point to another.
“They are driving fast and trying to get where they want to go,” she said. “They are flying up and down.”
She said South Range has many students who walk back and forth to school every day. She said it’s dangerous for children who may be walking unsupervised. Some drivers are going to fast through those neighborhoods, she said.
But town officials said they believe things will get better.
“We’ve been making some adjustments out in various locations,” Public Works director Mike Fowler said.
Some people need help navigating new routes, he said, and additional signs have been posted to help keep speeds down in certain neighborhoods.
“But people are going to find all their own ways around the detours,” he said.
The most congested times of the day seem to be between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., Fowler said.
During the day, police officers are posted at each end of the detour routes to assist drivers.
“Our hope is that people get adjusted to the directions,” Fowler said.
Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores lives near the construction zone. Her Bradford Street neighborhood is seeing a lot more traffic due to detours.
“South Range is right in my backyard,” she said. “There is now a tremendous amount of traffic (on Bradford).”
Katsakiores said with the construction, drivers are looking for ways around it. Some are heading down her usually quiet street and through other residential neighborhoods.
The school district reported any early snags with school arrivals at South Range were minimal.
School district business administrator Jane Simard said any transportation issues with buses and parents getting children to school were fixed early.
“There was a snag last Tuesday with the staff and buses, which was the first day during construction, but it was rectified by the afternoon and since then we have had no issues, so far so good,” Simard said. “We were notified of the construction well in advance so the bus company was made aware, as well as South Range Elementary.”
She said South Range principal Matt Olsen sent notifications to parents so they would be aware of the construction and where any detours might be.
Kim DeFeo lives on Berry Road, one of the major detour routes.
“I’ve labeled my road ‘the speedway,’” she said.
DeFeo said she understands what the town is doing, but wants people to slow down.
“I just want people to be aware that there are children and families,” she said. “I want people to be aware of their speed and watch for children waiting for the bus or playing in the yard.”
Rockingham Road will be closed 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the new bridge is installed and in service.
At Birch Street, motorists are directed to take Windham Road to Berry Road to rejoin Route 28. At the Route 28/Bypass 28 intersection, drivers are then to take the rotary to Route 102 before rejoining Route 28.
This is the first phase of the Rockingham Road project. Fowler said future phases in 2014 will extend farther east on Rockingham and head north along Route 28 and south along Bypass 28.
“The total cost of all phases will be approximately $2 million for water, $2 million for sewer and $1 million for the bridge and road improvements,” he said.
Until the road work is done, Katsakiores said, people should be more careful.
“There’s a lot of extra traffic, but it’s not forever,” she said.
Veduccio said she appreciates the town’s road work, but drivers need to slow down.
“I don’t want anyone to get hit,” she said. “I understand construction has to happen, but I would love it if people driving through the neighborhoods (would slow down). It’s a neighborhood, it’s not a highway.”
Construction updates are available on the town website, derrynh.org.