Roadwork is snarling traffic through Derry. The work is necessary. But the traffic problems could be lessened with a little more help from town officials and a little more patience from drivers.
Rockingham Road is under construction. The section between Bradford Street and Winter Hill Road will be closed through November as the town constructs a new bridge and installs water, drainage and sewage in the area.
That closure has created a ripple effect through town as drivers seek alternate routes. At the Route 28/Bypass 28 intersection, drivers are directed to go through the rotary to Route 102 to meet with Route 28. That has created long backups at the rotary as all the extra drivers clog the traffic circle.
“There has been a backup in all directions at the beginning,” Police Capt. Vernon Thomas told reporter Alex Lippa last week. “But we expect it to be better at the end of this week, after they learn the detour.”
DPW Director Mike Fowler said town officials anticipated the ripple effect of the road closure.
“We know that more people would be going through town on Route 102 to avoid the detour,” he said. “So, we have changed the timing of the traffic signal on Route 102 and Route 28, to allow more traffic to pass through.”
But it seems the town could be doing more. Drivers have been confused about where they are expected to go to avoid the road closure.
Trista Kort told Lippa that it used to be easy for her to drive from East Derry to the South Range Elementary School. Now, easy is not the correct word.
“I haven’t figured out how I’m going to get where I’m going,” she said. “I probably will have to cut through some poor residential neighborhood.”
Derry police are stationed at both ends of the detour to help redirect motorists. At Birch Street, they will be directed to take Windham Road to Berry Road to rejoin Route 28. At the Route 28/Bypass 28 intersection, police direct drivers toward the rotary. But some residents have said the police are not always there, particularly during rush hours when traffic is heaviest.
Better, more prominent signs would also help drivers understand more clearly where they are supposed to go.
But beyond that, what’s needed is a little more patience from drivers, particularly when they are directed through neighborhoods and over roads that are not used to such heavy traffic.
This project is going to take some time. Next spring, the work will shift to the segment of Rockingham Road between Winter Hill Road and Bypass 28.
Closing the road is the best way to get the work done quickly.
“The most efficient way to do it is to come in and shut the road completely,” Fowler said. “We can reopen the road sooner, as opposed to doubling the cost and doing it one lane at a time.”
The $4 million road project is part of Derry’s economic development efforts and should encourage business growth in the area. The increase in the tax base that results will benefit all Derry residents.
In the meantime, getting around will be a little more difficult. A little patience and understanding will be needed until the project has been completed.