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Smithfield Ave may be two-way by summer’s end

The last minute discovery that Smithfield Avenue is not entirely controlled by the state will probably not block plans to return this intersection to two-way traffic before Labor Day thanks to anticipated federal stimulus funding for city construction projects, according to Councilman Kevin Jackson of Ward 3.

On April 8, the State Traffic Commission approved DOT’s recommendation that the North Main intersection be reconfigured for two-way traffic. However, it came to light only on April 3 that DOT does not control the small but crucial stretch of Smithfield between Nashua Street and North Main (the part of the street with Blockbuster Video to the north and Brooks Drug on the south side). The Commission decision cleared the way for re-timed signals, signage and striping on North Main, but did nothing to deliver eastbound vehicles from Smithfield Ave to North Main.

Fortunately, according to Jackson, the city quickly agreed to include this project in its public works budget for stimulus funding from the federal government. Those dollars must be committed and spent quickly, so if things go as expected, the whole change may take place by the end of the summer.  As it happens, the reconstruction of the rest of Smithfield, from Rt. 95 to Nashua is already on the state list of stimulus projects. The city will be responsible for removing the traffic island that diverts traffic behind Brooks Drug to Frost Street and a telephone pole in the island. Unfortunately, it appears that a healthy volunteer tree in the island will have to go, too.

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