Public hearing

Jake Lahut / Sentinel Staff

A large crowd turned out to a public feedback session in October for the double roundabout project the N.H. Department of Transportation is planning for downtown Jaffrey. The session, which was the final one put on by the state agency, was held at the VFW post on Hathorn Road.

JAFFREY — An $8.6 million two-roundabout project downtown remains on track to start construction in summer 2022, after the Executive Council authorized the N.H. Department of Transportation to extend its contract with an engineering firm, according to an agency official.

After a final public feedback session was delayed from last spring to last fall, the state agency needed to extend its 2017 contract with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. The engineering firm’s Manchester office has been helping with the design and public input phases of the project, DOT program specialist Richard Arcand said Friday.

The project is conditional on approval by N.H. Department of Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan and a three-member commission appointed by the governor and Executive Council, according to Arcand. The commission members are David Wheeler, former executive councilor; Andrew Card and Samuel Hackler.

The goal of the project is to alleviate traffic congestion and dicey encounters between motorists and pedestrians.

One roundabout on the south bank of the river would form a hub, with five spokes connecting Turnpike Road (Route 124), Stratton Road, Blake Street, Main Street and Peterborough Street (Route 202).

Across the river, a new bridge would bring traffic from Peterborough Street in a westbound loop, forming a second roundabout to connect River Street and a new extension to Route 202.

The bridge connecting the five-way roundabout to the three-way roundabout across the river would eliminate a hard left turn onto Peterborough Street.

The roundabouts would provide a continuous flow of traffic through downtown, while improving pedestrian safety by adding more walkways along the river and downtown business fronts, according to Marty Kennedy, a DOT engineer and project manager who has been at the project presentations.

Vanasse Hangen Brustlin was initially scheduled to end its work with the town of Jaffrey on New Year’s Eve, and will now continue until April 30, according to the Executive Council minutes.

The council voted unanimously on Dec. 18 to extend the contract.

In its work on the project, the engineering firm has had to confront several concerns shared by the public in the feedback sessions.

Most notably, the Lab n’ Lager tavern on Stratton Road will need to be razed, along with several other properties.

Donald “Doni” Ash, owner of both the Jaffrey and Keene Lab n’ Lager taverns, told The Sentinel Friday that regardless of what happens with the Jaffrey property, he plans on opening a new tap room at The Shattuck Golf Club in town this spring after buying the club last year.

Ash said he’s been told to expect a final decision on the future of his property this week from DOT officials. The owner added that hiring has become difficult at the Jaffrey Lab n’ Lager because current and prospective employees are worried the project could begin within a few months, rather than over the summer of 2022.

A second round of construction over the summer of 2023 is intended to complete the project, should everything go according to plan.

This report has been altered to note that this project is contingent on approvals by the commissioner of the N.H. Department of Transportation and a three-member commission appointed by the governor and Executive Council.

Jake Lahut can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or jlahut@keenesentinel.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JakeLahut.