Long-debated upgrade of Route 202/9 intersection to be discussed

By DAVID BROOKS

Monitor staff

Published: 08-22-2023 3:29 PM

Roundabout, stoplight or separating roads? Those are possibilities for the intersection of a long-debated stretch of Route 202/Route 9 near the Dunkin Donuts at the Henniker/Hopkinton border.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation will discuss possible changes to the high-traffic area at a public meeting on Thursday at Hopkinton Town Hall, starting at 6 p.m. This is the next step in the process to deal with the intersection of the area’s major east-west road and state Route 127, often known as Old Concord Road.

The state has labeled the junction as an “intersection of concern” for 13 years and has tweaked it several times. More than 16,000 vehicles a day travel through it on Route 202. The intersection stands out because of traffic turning in and out of the busy Dunkin Donuts store. It averaged about two accidents a year for a decade, more than a third of them involving injury.

“We’re probably leaning toward a roundabout at this time due to funding … but no decision has been made,” said Michael Mozer, chief of design services for the state DOT.

If a light is installed it would be the first traffic light on Route 202 / Route 9 between Hopkinton and Keene.

Estimated costs right now are $1.8 million to install traffic lights, $2.5 million for a roundabout, and $20 million or more to create a “grade separation” that would divert turning traffic away from vehicles passing through, Mozer said. That last seems unlikely, due to cost. The current budget for the project is $1.6 million.

Once a decision has been made, perhaps following at least one more public meeting, construction is set to start in 2025. A signal could be installed in one season but a roundabout would probably not be ready until 2026.

Traffic officials increasingly prefer roundabouts to signalized intersections when locations allow, both for safety – roundabouts have far fewer dangerous accidents than traditional intersections – and because they increase the number of vehicles that can pass through since nobody has to sit and wait for the light. They also have much lower maintenance and operating costs.

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Roundabouts are often more expensive to build than installing signals at an intersection because they take up more land.

Questions or additional information about the proposed project can be obtained by calling (603) 271-2297 or checking the project website at https://www.nh.gov/dot/projects/hennikerhopkinton40633/index.htm

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