The town of Windham is once again considering whether to create a network of roads to bypass the Route 302 corridor in North Windham.

The road network would bypass the main commercial strip in North Windham by means of a parallel road behind the Windham Mall to connect with Route 115 and continue to Commons Avenue near the intersection of River Road on Route 302.

A proposal before the Windham Town Council suggests that the town assess the cost of obtaining public access to private roads and land parallel to Route 302 and how this might alleviate traffic pressure on the major arterial road heading north and south through the Lakes Region.

“I don’t think we can wait much longer,” Community Development Director Roger Timmons told the council on Tuesday. “We can’t wait until that land is developed.”

Many studies and plans have been concocted in the past to create an alternate system of roads around the commercial sector, but no plan has ever been followed through expect for the creation of Manchester Drive, near the intersection of routes 302 and 35, which cuts behind Wal-Mart Supercenter and connects with the Shaw’s Supermarket plaza.

The money for this study was designated by the council through tax revenues collected in the new Roosevelt Promenade TIF District.

While councilors agreed on the importance of the lateral road network, some questioned why the study only focused on a small area of the problem.

“In my mind, I thought we’d focus on the whole area,” Councilor Elizabeth Wisecup said. “When we just focus on that one area, we leave everything else out.”

Town Manager Anthony Plante argued that simplifying the study and focusing the efforts on that one area would make the project more feasible.

Councilor David Tobin concurred with this thinking, but advocated that the council act immediately on the plan without the engineering study because previous studies have resulted in little action.

“If we don’t do it very soon, it’s going to cost the town,” Tobin said.

Councilor Wisecup however continued to question whether this plan would actually alleviate traffic or only serve to build out more commercial properties along the proposed road network.

She particularly criticized the northern exit of the road network at Franklin Drive near Home Depot and wondered whether this would just be creating a new traffic problem to replace the old.

“Where is traffic going to come out where it’s not going to create a bottleneck?” Wisecup asked.

She advocated that the town focus on both sides of Route 302 for parallel roads and especially the length described in the plan heading south from Route 115 to Commons Avenue for commuter traffic.

Congestation on Route 302 causes safety concerns due to the bumper-to-bumper traffic during summer weekends and commuter traffic in the morning and afternoon.

Ambulances and police have no way to get around stalled traffic due to lack of parallel roads, the councilors noted.

The study, estimated at $20,000, would take about two months and assess the cost and benefit of the plan.

“The study will give us an idea of whether this is feasible or not,” Plante said.

While this lateral road network is still in its beginning discussions, the council agreed that, study or not, this road network needs to be started soon.

Aerial view shows the intersection of routes 115 and 302, known as “Boody’s Corner,” in North Windham. The town is now considering a lateral road network that would bypass the North Windham commercial strip to alleviate traffic congestion on the Route 302 corridor.


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