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MANCHESTER, NH – The city of Manchester has released new and improved designs for the proposed “peanut” roundabout at the intersection of South Willow Street and Queen City Avenue, a component of the transportation infrastructure improvement project called RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities. The proposed reconfiguration will replace the current signalized intersection with a peanut-shaped roundabout.
In response to input from residents, businesses and community groups, the city made a number of improvements to the intersection design since the plan was presented at a December 2022 public meeting at the Manchester City Library.
“The new peanut roundabout at South Willow Street and Queen City Avenue represents a significant investment in safety and accessibility for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists while making long-term strides to improve our air quality through reduced emissions,” said RAISE Manchester Project Manager Kristen Clarke, PE, PTOE, a traffic engineer for the Manchester Department of Public Works. “The thoughtful feedback we received ensures this necessary improvement offers a lasting benefit to the Queen City.”
Most of the improvements made to this design will make it easier for pedestrians and bicyclists to safely use and share the walkways around this intersection and the South Manchester Rail Trail which crosses over Queen City Avenue. Based on community feedback that the previously-designed sidewalks were too narrow for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate safely at the same time, the new design provides a 12- to 14-foot-wide raised path to prioritize safety and usability by providing enough space for pedestrians and bicyclists. This is an increase from the initially proposed 5- to 10-foot-wide sidewalks. The wider path is considered a “sidepath,” which is a two-way shared pathway, at least twice as wide as a typical sidewalk.
The city of Manchester will install a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon where a section of the South Manchester Rail Trail, which will be completed as part of this project, crosses over Queen City Avenue. This is part of the South Willow and Queen City Avenue reconfiguration, a component of RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities, known as a “peanut” roundabout.
The peanut-shaped roundabout at the intersection of South Willow Street and Queen City Avenue provides the following benefits:
- Improves safety by reducing vehicle speeds through the intersection
- Reduces motor vehicle accidents over time
- Adds crosswalks and “sidepaths” (currently no pedestrian crossings exist)
- Improves freight and vehicular operations by eliminating signal delay
- Reduces traffic signal delay and emissions from idling vehicles
Where the proposed rail trail meets Queen City Avenue and crosses to the proposed South Manchester Rail Trail, a type of signalized intersection for trail users called a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon will be installed to allow trail users to cross the roadway safely. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are designed to allow protected pedestrian crossings, stopping traffic with red signal indications as needed upon activation.
According to a study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration, Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons reduce pedestrian accidents and have experienced a near-perfect compliance rate.
Unlike ordinary traffic lights, Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons, which are used successfully elsewhere in the state at rail trail crossings, remain unlit until activated.
The RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities project includes three other major components; a new roadway and bridge that will extend from South Commercial Street behind the baseball stadium and over the active railroad to Elm Street, a new roadway extension on the opposite side of Elm Street from where the new bridge terminates at Gas Street that provides an alternative connection to South Willow Street via a new bridge over the abandoned railroad corridor and a new pedestrian bridge over Granite Street to connect Commercial and South Commercial Streets.
The project will also make a number of improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure along these corridors, as well as add critical connections to the city’s rail central trail network.
Additional updates will be shared as the project makes its way through the city, state and federal approval process.
For additional information about the RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities project, visit www.raisemanchester.org.