The Added Cost of Another Traffic Light Right Up Nashua's Middle (School)! - Granite Grok

The Added Cost of Another Traffic Light Right Up Nashua’s Middle (School)!

Traffic Light Mom explains to child

I recently noticed that my usual shortcut into the inner city is under attack. A new light is being built on Manchester Street at the intersection of Pennichuck Middle School and Ferry Street.

Unsure of exactly who is responsible for this happening, I turned to someone well versed in such matters who suggested asking Alderman Lori Wilshire. I emailed her, asking about the process in a new light materializing and what kind of programming it’s expected to have.


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Here is an excerpt.

” I noticed that a new light is being built at the intersection of Manchester and Ferry St. I must say that I am very unhappy about my shortcut into the inner city being ruined with another light as I use that route to avoid the lights on Amherst St. Anyway, rather than venting to people unable to do anything about it, I thought I would try to investigate how that happened.

Would you mind telling me what the process is that makes an extra light appear and if it’s something discussed and voted on by aldermen?

Or is there another process pathway in which it materializes? Also, I would be interested in knowing its programming plans, like what ratio of the time it will be green for Manchester St. Or will it stay green all the time(preferred) unless a camera sees a car approach from Ferry or the school?”

And her reply said the following words.

“The City of Nashua is in the midst of an extensive middle school project update. We are replacing the Elm Street Middle School building and renovating the other two middle schools so that once the new school is built we will have a fairly equal number of students in each middle school. We expect about 800 students in each of the three middle schools.

The new traffic light on Manchester Street is being installed for safer traffic flow in and out of the Pennichuck School site. It is a temporary light for now but once the project is near completion the light will be a permanent fixture at that location.

If you would like to discuss the timing and cycle of that light I recommend that you reach out to my colleague, Alderman Rick Dowd, who is the Alderman for that ward and he also chairs the Joint Special School Building Committee as well as chairing the Executive committee for the middle school project. He can give you more of the details that you are asking about as far as the cycle and timing of the light or he can get the information for you from the traffic engineer or construction manager.

I understand your concern because I also use that shortcut as opposed to all of the traffic lights on Amherst Street. I have copied Alderman Dowd on this email so that you can connect with him for more details of this project. Thank you for your email.”

I should note that Dowd happens to be my alderman and I plan to aggressively campaign for his opponent. At this point, he has not replied nor do I have much expectation that he will. I remember a Union Leader article projecting declining enrollment during the push for replacing Elm Street School and thought of recent trends in education, so I shared Wilshire’s reply to a former school committee member. I was NOT surprised by the response below.

“Yeah, 800 for each middle school. That’s if private and homeschooled students transferred back to public schools. It was Moseley’s fantasy that was never going to happen.

What you want is the enrollment numbers for Pennichuck middle school over the last two or three years.

Many students left over the pandemic remote learning and then the masks upon returning to the schools.

If the enrollment numbers are down, there is clearly no need for this temporary light to become permanent.”

I looked at the school website though I can’t be sure how up-to-date it is. 700 is the enrollment number it claims.

With all the Elm Street shenanigans happening and assumed student body redistribution, let’s suppose for a moment that there is a net increase of 100 students. How many more per bus is that? How many don’t take the bus? How many more faculty and staff members will add to the traffic entering and exiting campus?

This is a middle school, so I will suppose there are no serial grade-repeating students who have cars.

What will happen to crossing guards, if they exist there and are on school or city payroll? This doesn’t pass the smell test. And what’s wrong with just an ordinary “school speed limit 20 when flashing” (twice a day on school days only) sign?