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Why we should remove Langley Parkway Extension Phase 3 CIP 40 (LP3) from the budget, and why NOW is the time to object. Read post.

What is Langley Parkway Extension Phase 3 (LP3)?

The Langley Parkway Extension Phase 3 (CIP 40) is the third phase of a 1950s highway plan which would bulldoze the community nature trail and surrounding habitat north of the hospital creating a 78 foot wide parkway. The road would start at the top of the existing Langley Parkway near Granite Ledges and empty onto an already congested North State Street (see yellow dotted line on map) thus dividing established neighborhoods on Concord’s west side. This $22 million dollar city construction project would financially impact all Concord taxpayers with no clear deliverables, irreparably destroying natural wetlands and wildlife ecosystems. The existing trail attracts and connects people of all ages and supports a thriving recreational community.

 

We ask that the City double down on what makes it such a great place to live and invest in its natural community resources.  Let's celebrate and protect this trail that has brought us together for the past 250 years.  Citizens have successfully pushed back against this proposal for decades - let's end this discussion once and for all and remove CIP 40 permanently from the City budget. 

 

Now IS the time to remove LP3 from the budget, if we don't, and the City comes up with the funding, the parkway is as good as built.  

Read our community letter in opposition below and sign the petition today!

WHY CITIZENS OPPOSE THE PARKWAY
INFORMATIONAL LETTER

In 2010 the City Council designated the construction of Phase 3 of the Langley Parkway as a city priority.  Three years later, when hundreds of city residents asked “why” and voiced their objection, Mayor Bouley said, “I can only speak for myself, but I can tell you that when I look at the list of priorities, the things that need to be done in the city, this doesn’t even register.”  The Mayor was right then and his statement rings even more true now. 

 

IT WILL NOT SHORTEN AMBULANCE RESPONSE TIME

Contrary to recent assumptions, constructing Langley Phase 3 will not shorten ambulance response time, which is the critical time it takes an ambulance to reach a call location because ambulances are rolling medical intensive care units. The Fire Department Study from 2022 recommended station renovation and relocation, increasing administrators and adding a 4th ambulance. If the City is truly concerned about critical ambulance response time and public health, funds are better spent implementing the recommendations laid out in the 2022 Fire Station Location Study

 

IT COMES AT A HUGE COST TO TAXPAYERS

Concord taxpayers are already facing the increasing school costs with the prospective cost of building a new middle school. There is no desire nor need to pay more taxes to construct a $22+ million road that will bring more traffic to established residential neighborhoods and destroy valuable recreational and conservation areas.

 

IT WILL NOT IMPROVE TRAFFIC FLOW

The traffic data from the 2015 feasibility study is outdated. The study doesn’t account for the State Offices, Concord High School, or the Elementary School as being major generators of traffic. Traffic drops off significantly west of the High School and State Office areas and would not be helped by the Langley Parkway Extension. The study assumed traffic would grow by as much as 2% each year, but according to NH DOT traffic counts from the past 11 years, traffic is below 2011 rates. The city has neglected roadways and infrastructure that could more easily and affordably be updated to improve traffic flow.  

 

IT WILL DESTROY HABITAT & GREEN SPACE, LIMIT ACCESS TO PUBLIC RECREATION TRAILS & REDUCE THE OVERALL APPEAL OF THIS INCREDIBLE CITY

In fairness to the many property owners along the proposed route, trail users, Concord taxpayers and those concerned about the environment, Langley should be removed from the city’s capital improvement plan. By removing CIP 40, we are reaffirming our commitment to neighborhood connectivity, sensible government spending, and protection of greenspace to thwart the impact of climate change. 

 

We welcome the opportunity to establish this as a permanent wellness trail and beloved Concord asset enjoyed by residents and visitors alike.

Please come to make your voice heard at City Budget Hearings May 2nd & 9th at 5:30pm - City Hall.

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT THE ISSUES:

 

COST TO TAXPAYERS

In the Transportation Feasibility Study (page 57) submitted to the city in January of 2015 the range of costs for the Langley Parkway (depending on whether there is a median, round about or signalized intersections) are estimated at $13,600,000 to $15,400,000. These costs do not include legal fees, administrative costs and acquiring land either through purchasing or eminent domain. We used this National Highway Construction Cost Index graph to get a better sense of what JUST the road construction cost would be for 2022 and it lands the proposal construction costs at 22 million dollars* (Also NOT including legal, administrative & eminent domain costs). 

 

The 2015 cost estimates were between $13.6 and $15.4 million and with recent estimates as high $22 million, why does the city list costs for the parkway at $12,515,800 in their most recent Capital Improvement Program? If the purpose of this road is to improve traffic flow to the hospital and the former Lincoln Financial property, and to improve traffic flow to the state office park and the high school, why does CIP 40 indicate the only non-public contribution will be less than 25% of the total cost of the parkway? 

 

The city’s costs estimates for Langley Parkway appear to be grossly understated. But that is not the point. The real issue: Is the data that was used to justify the Parkway in 2015 used correctly? and does there continue to be a need for the Parkway as designed in 2015? The resounding answer from the community is NO, do not build Phase 3 of this road.

 

If it were built the parkway would only shift traffic issues from one neighborhood to another, potentially causing even more harm than benefit to the residents of Concord. With recommendations for fire station improvements and a fifth station,  the need for a new police station, the building of a new middle school and costs associated with recreation and ongoing road improvements, there is no reason to spend even more of your tax dollars on a project that isn’t needed or wanted. 

 

Demanding that the city council remove Langley Parkway from the CIP, will send a clear message that city residents are not willing to have their tax dollars wasted.

*Calculation using the National Highway Construction Cost Index graph:

$15Million (original mid-range estimated cost from 2013) divided by the forecasted inflationary cost ratio from the national construction cost index in 2024

In 2011 (when data was obtained for 2013 feasibility study and cost estimate) NCCI = 1.4-1.5. 

In 2021 NCCI = 2.1.  Extrapolate this rate of rise out for 3 years to 2024 the NCCI is projected to be 2.27.

15,000,000/(1.5/2.27)=$22,700,000

The National Construction Cost Index is provided by the US DOT Federal Highway Administration

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TRAFFIC FLOW

The traffic data from the Feasibility study is outdated

  • Data was collected in 2011 and was limited due to budget constraints

  • It doesn’t take into account the major shifts in lifestyles like work-from-home which had been steadily growing even pre-pandemic

  • The study assumed the rate of traffic would grow by as much as 2% each year, but looking at the numbers provided by the NH Department of Transportation for the past 11 years, traffic is actually below 2011 rates.

The study assumes that the final destination for all of the cut-through traffic is Concord Hospital

  • All of the routes studied have Concord Hospital as the final destination

  • It doesn’t account for the State Offices, the Concord High School, or the Elementary School as being major generators of traffic 

  • Looking at the traffic counts, the vast majority of traffic is flowing to the High School and State Office areas 

  • Traffic drops off significantly after these two areas and would not be helped by the Langley Parkway Extension

The city has been neglecting roadways and infrastructure that could more easily be updated to improve traffic flow

  • The study showed two images of traffic backed up at the Centre St lights at Green St and N State St, neither of which would be addressed by this plan

  • Cheaper and more efficient infrastructure needs could be addressed to alleviate congestion at these bottlenecks such as synchronized traffic lights and roundabouts 

"I would never make a business decision based on the data we have from this study, and I’m shocked that the city would try to move forward with a plan based on this information." - Resident expert in Mapping, Traffic Flow & Navigation who has put together a comprehensive report on issues with the feasibility study.

 

HEALTH & SAFETY

The argument that building phase 3 of Langely Parkway will save lives is not accurate:

 

  1. Ambulances are not taxis picking up and delivering patients passively to emergency departments. 

  2. Ambulances are rolling medical intensive care units staffed by medical professionals who administer life saving care on the scene and prior to arrival in the hospital.

  3. Survival depends on the time to get to the patient ("Response Time"), not how long it takes to get to the hospital ("Prehospital time")

  4. The Fire Department Study from 2022 included recommendations for station renovations, relocation of stations, adding a 5th station, in addition to increasing administrators and adding a 4th ambulance - page 4 of the study. It concluded optimal response time (less than 4 minutes) and survival therefore depends on EMS location. The study found relocating the fire stations to respond more quickly to underserved areas or adding a 5th fire station would improve 4 minute response time.  

  5. Unfortunately, the city council and mayor chose in March 2022 to move Penacook's Manor Fire Station ambulance (responsible for 19.1% of all calls in Concord) to North State Street Fire Station instead of adding a 4th ambulance.  It is important to remember that testimony provided at a recent city council meeting reflected the ambulance was placed in service at Manor station to improve response time. This decision to remove the ambulance from the Manor station prolongs response times in the northern half of the city and potentially adds to increasing mortality in Wards 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10. 

  6. The Fire Department has requested a 4th ambulance every year for FIVE years (Public Safety Board minutes: 5/3/21; 6/29/20; 9/30/19; 4/9/18; 4/24/17), it’s been needed since BEFORE the COVID pandemic.  It's high time we prioritize the heroes that have responded to the greatest medical crisis of our time and spend $1.4 million to add a fourth ambulance and life saving medical staff - not construct a $22 million dollar road.

 

BENEFITS OF THE RESOURCE

Concord is a thriving, growing city whose citizens are surrounded by beautiful eastern deciduous forests and have access to public trails that are scattered throughout these woods. With the COVID pandemic, climate change, and the great job reshuffle many families are leaving big, overcrowded, overpriced cities and looking for a better way of life where they can thrive.  Concord's greenspaces are its crown jewel attraction with hundreds of acres of conservation land and many tens if not hundreds of miles of trails.  The Winant park trail system, Marjorie Swope trail system, West End Farm Trail system, and more (the Quarry!) are all linked together and are accessible from the Community Trail.  It is one of the few trails in town that because of the absence of automobile traffic, relative smoothness, and year round maintenance it is relatively safe (beware in ice season) for both ends of the age spectrum and everyone in between.

The Community Trail is used for fundraiser 5K races from the hospital and as segments of bike races on occasion.  Mostly, however, it is a place for preschoolers to toddle, elementary schoolers to field trip, dog walkers to let their dogs lead them, and to recharge by taking lunch break walks for healthcare employees from nearby Concord Orthopedics, Concord Hospital, Encompass Healthcare, and Granite Ledges.  Most importantly though, it is easily accessible to all citizens of Concord who both walk and drive to this trail all year round to hear birds sing, bubbling Bow Brook, Squirrels chattering, and to get up to the gorgeous views from the top of Winant Park.  It is a 1.5 walk from the State Capital up School St, Auburn St, or Thayer Pond Road to access these trails all crossing the Community Trail to get deeper into the woods.

Because of the extensive wetlands, headwaters of Bow Brook, and abutting conservation land this area is a rich wildlife habitat.  Animals spotted on the Community Trail, not to mention the deeper trail system include deer, bears, coyotes, bobcats, and ermine.  Frequent fliers overhead include barred and barn owls, bald eagles, numerous hawk species, woodpeckers, and warblers.  Of course, for those closer to the ground, the very young and four pawed citizens, the plethora of chipmunks, garter snakes, frogs, and butterflies provide a thrill.

The richness of this resource cannot be overstated as around the country developers pave paradise for big box stores and acres of Mcmansions.  Concord should double down on what makes it such a great place to live, invest in its natural resources, and find a way to sensibly and sustainably develop capacity for its share of the 50 million Americans will move to the northeast in the next few decades to escape climate change.  Concord should celebrate and protect the beauty that it has held onto for the past 250 years for it to thrive and grow well over the next 250.

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ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The Langley Parkway Extension Phase 3 would introduce several negative environmental impacts to the area including pollution, an increase in wildlife motor vehicle accidents, and habitat fragmentation. These adverse impacts would be felt by people, wildlife, and the local habitat.

 

Negative effects of the Langley Parkway Extension Phase 3 include:

Habitat fragmentation:

Breaking up natural habitat has been proven to negatively impact the health of natural ecosystems. A roadway can be a barrier for smaller species to cross and it also increases the weather exposure to trees and other plant life. It can also be a vector for the introduction of invasive species. Habitat fragmentation leads to a degradation of ecological health and reduces the ability of both flora and fauna to adjust to the impacts of climate change.

Increase in pollution:

Roadways transmit a large amount of trash, harmful chemicals, and debris into the nearby environment. Litter accompanies every roadway in America – it would be no different along the extension of the Langley Parkway. Salt used in winter and oil from cars can have negative impacts on the chemical makeup of the nearby habitat, as well as leach into the groundwater. Additionally, exhaust from cars introduces foul smells and harmful chemicals into the areas adjacent to roadways. Debris from tires, auto accidents, and construction can harm plant and animal life. Finally, light and noise pollution has been known to have a profound detrimental impact on both humans and other animals.

Increase in wildlife motor vehicle accidents:

Concord is home to a large number of animal species including deer which cause up to 1.5 million motor vehicle accidents per year in the U.S. Smaller animals like turkeys, squirrels, and skunks would also be subject to collisions and ensuing roadside mortality. Inevitably and unfortunately, the carcasses of animals would line the roadway resulting in smells and health risks.
 

The Langley Parkway Extension Phase 3 contains a number of harmful environmental consequences that would be both immediate and lasting. Humans depend on a healthy and vibrant natural world – let’s not degrade our local environment for a poorly conceived infrastructure project.

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