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OFFICIALS HAVE ANNOUNCED new developments on the RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities project, including a redesign of the Granite Street Pedestrian Bridge.
An estimated 100 Manchester residents and business owners filled the auditorium at the Manchester City Library in December to hear about the details of planned work associated with the $30 million transportation infrastructure improvement project. Input from that session was used to support the bridge redesign, officials said.
Focused around the South Millyard area to the northern end of South Willow Street, officials say the project will “improve connectivity for multiple modes of transportation,” as well as pedestrians, improve commute times, reduce traffic jams near Exit 5 off Interstate 293 and alleviate traffic ahead of performances at the SNHU Arena or baseball games at Delta Dental Stadium.
The project is funded by a $25 million federal Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grant.
“RAISE Manchester will not only transform our layout of transportation options for residents and reconnect communities, it will set the groundwork for revitalizing the South Millyard and the southern end of downtown,” said city Public Works Director Tim Clougherty, in a statement.
The project is expected to include:
- A new pedestrian bridge over Granite Street connecting Commercial and South Commercial streets;
- A new road and bridge extending from South Commercial Street behind the baseball stadium over the active railroad to Elm Street;
- A new road extension on the opposite side of Elm Street, where the new bridge terminates at Gas Street, to provide an alternative connection to South Willow Street with a new bridge over the abandoned railroad corridor;
- A new pedestrian and bicycle path along the abandoned railroad corridor connecting Queen City Avenue and Elm Street;
- A new roundabout replacing the intersection and signals at the Queen City Avenue-South Willow Street intersection.
Following input from residents, businesses and community groups, city officials made a number of improvements to the design of the Granite Street Pedestrian Bridge after the plan was presented at a meeting at the Manchester City Library in December.
The bridge still will be located just east of the intersection of Commercial and Granite streets. However, the new design features longer, more gently sloping ramps and eliminates the sharp turns in the original design.
Based on feedback that the ramps were too narrow, officials widened the ramps and the pedestrian bridge itself from 10 feet to 12 feet.
Cyclists will have the option of using the new bridge or crossing at street level using the travel lanes.
Officials say the new pedestrian bridge:
- Improves safety by elevating pedestrians crossing seven lanes of dense urban traffic;
- Ensures safer access to major places of employment (SNHU/WMUR), events (Fisher Cats/SNHU Arena) and hotels (Hilton Garden Inn);
- Accommodates increasing pedestrian traffic at this intersection (600 people crossing daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.);
- Features fully accessible ramp access;
- Improves signal operation at intersection of Granite and Commercial streets;
- Reduces emissions from idling vehicles.
Officials said that in honor of Manchester’s history and at the recommendation of many workshop participants, civic and historical organizations, the pedestrian bridge and its arch structure are designed to resemble the former Notre Dame Bridge, an iconic, green-steel bridge that spanned the Merrimack River, connecting downtown to the West side from 1937 to 1989.
City public works officials have submitted a letter to the Federal Highway Administration stating the new pedestrian bridge will not negatively affect Gateway Park, located at the corner of Commercial and Granite Streets.
“Further, the construction of a pedestrian bridge and ADA-compliant approach ramps will support the use and function of the parcel for public recreation,” the letter stated.
More information about RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities is available at raisemanchester.org.