LACONIA — City officials returned to River Street yesterday to reconsider the route for truck traffic in and out of the construction site where River's Edge, a 32-unit apartment complex, is being built, after the City Council shelved a temporary traffic order that would have lifted the prohibition against trucks using the last, narrow leg of the street. After weighing the circumstances, they agreed to return to the council with an amended traffic order that will restrict but not prohibit truck traffic on River Street.
River Street runs southward along the east bank of the Winnipesaukee River from Church Street to Arch Street. River Street is open to truck traffic between Church Street and Jewett Street, but signs at the intersections with Jewett Street and Arch Street signal that trucks are prohibited on the last leg of the street — about 90 yards — from Jewett Street to Arch Street. The entrance to the construction site is at the intersection of Arch and River streets.
As proposed, the traffic order prohibiting trucks would have been suspended for a year and "trucking as needed" would have been allowed Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. A speed limit of 10 miles-per-hour would have been imposed on all "trucks, construction equipment, contractor vehicles and delivery vehicles." In addition, Northpoint Engineering, LLC and Eckman Construction would be held responsible for monitoring the condition of the roadway as well as for notifying vendors of the speed and time limitations on the street.
The council tabled the order in response to concerns raised by Kerren Horn, whose home and business — RDH Electric, LLC — at 36 River Street in the only property on the narrow portion of the street. She told the council that the truck traffic, which began last month. was threatening to damage the pavement and hastening the erosion of the riverbank.
Trucks accessing the construction site from Union Avenue preferred to follow Jewett Street to River Street which leads directly to the entrance to the site at the foot of Arch Street. Although Arch Street also offers access and egress from Union Avenue,t the intersection is below a steep rise on Union Avenue, which limits the line of sight . Moreover, tractor trailers cannot negotiate the right-angle turn to enter the site at the foot of Arch Street.
City Manager Scott Myers, Paul Moynihan, Director of Public Works, and City Councilors Bob Hamel (Ward 5) and Armand Bolduc (Ward 60 met yesterday with Chip Elliott of Eckman Construction at the site. Elliot agreed that 10-wheeled trucks, including cement trucks, could enter and leave the site by way of Arch Street, but tractor-trailers could not without extensive and expensive alterations to the site entrance as well as restrictions on resident parking along Arch Street.
As a result of their conversation, Moynihan will modify the original traffic order proposal with an eye to presenting the amended version to the council later this month. He said that it will likely require monitoring road conditions and sweeping the street more frequently. In the interim, Moynihan will post the 10 mph speed limit on River Street and Elliott will divert all but the the largest trucks from River Street to Arch Street.
"I can live with this," said Hamel, the most outspoken opponent of opening River Street to unrestricted truck traffic.
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