ROCKINGHAM — It’s been over a month since the Rockingham Downtown Corporation met at the Extension Office at the Agricultural Center on Caroline Street, but Tuesday’s meeting sounded very similar to the last one.
RDC member Neal Cadieu spoke of the group’s continued desire to do away with one-way streets downtown to deter large commercial trucks coming through the area.
“If we continue to pursue doing away with one-way streets to try to alleviate the truck traffic through our business district, we’ll go first to the planning board, and then we’d go through the city council,” said Cadieu.
Cadieu made it clear that the RDC has no standing with the state Department of Transportation, but does with the Rockingham City Council.
“We’re under their umbrella,” added Cadieu.
The downtown group knows the process will take time, but Cadieu has already tried to get the ball rolling.
“John Massey (city planner) has contacted the engineer with DOT to get a reaction as to the elimination of one-way streets to see what their thoughts are,” Cadieu said.
Other groups or individuals that have dealt with the DOT in the past, have found it difficult to make progress in a timely fashion, according to Cadieu.
“The Historical Society wrote two letters to the DOT four years ago to turn over the depot,” said Cadieu. “They never did.”
he added that Rep. Ken Goodman said it took three years to get a stoplight in front of the high school.
” … and he’s in the General Assembly,” Cadieu said. “If we continue to pursue it, it’s going to take awhile.”
Other RDC members expressed their opposition with the one-way street system that’s been in place for 59 years.
“I would save gas if they didn’t have one-way streets,” RDC member Susan Kelly said.
Katie Rohleder, RDC member and director of Discovery Place KIDS, thinks the roads would be a lot safer with two-way streets because of people heading in the wrong direction with the current configuration.
There would have to be a discussion and extensive study done by DOT officials to figure out how a two-way street system would work logistically in downtown Rockingham. This holds especially true in the area where Harrington Square sits.
“There’s no way for it to be a two-way,” said RDC member Robert Watkins. “It’s not physically possible.”
G.R. Kindley tried to get DOT to route truck traffic onto Green Street years ago, but they weren’t particularly interested in doing that, Cadieu said.
Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris said federal guidelines entitle trucks to use the shortest distance because of fuel saving and convenience. “The shortest distance is through the middle of town,” Morris said. “I think that’s what the DOT’s hang-up is on.”
Cadieu said “the bottom line” is the DOT will not consider the issue until the city council requests that they do.
“The truck traffic is a real problem,” he said.