Roundabout wraps for the year with bulk of project complete
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | November 24,2012
MANCHESTER — With the paving that was done Tuesday and Wednesday, work on the roundabout, which will be named the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Circle, has been wrapped up for 2012, according to Town Manager John O’Keefe.
Work on the roundabout, which replaced the intersection of Routes 11/30 and 7A in order to improve the traffic flow, started in May. Construction consisted of building one large roundabout in the area once known as “Malfunction Junction” and a smaller, “button” roundabout to the north. The button roundabout keeps traffic moving as cars coming from the north, south or west turn off to Route 30 or 7A.
Related work has included sidewalk improvements, a bridge replacement and the removal of utility wires to make the area more visually appealing for the many visiting tourists.
Because of state laws concerning construction over a body of water, the roundabout was required to be built over two years. Still, O’Keefe and the contractor, W.M. Schultz, of Ballston Spa, N.Y., made plans from early on to accelerate the schedule as much as possible so that most of the work would take place in 2012.
With the paving that was finished Tuesday, that goal has been met.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Schultz did a little bit of punch list stuff this fall and cleaning up things but other than that, next year we’ve got the crosswalks to install, we’ve got plantings to do, landscaping, lots of trees and flowers, shrubs and bushes, … and then punch list stuff and permanent paint (of the road striping),” he said.
With only some plantings to be done off the road and some painting of road lines and crosswalk delineation, O’Keefe said not only was the bulk of the work behind the town now, but also most of the kind of activity that caused large disruptions.
“Next year should be a cakewalk. There’s really nothing of any disruptive nature next year. We’ll be replacing the orange cones with trees and bushes,” he said.
Getting the final paving done was complicated, but O’Keefe said it was needed because the manholes at the top of the sewer access tunnels were elevated above the road surface. The paving was scheduled three times over the last few weeks but had to be postponed each time as the temperature dropped unexpectedly.
Even after paving started Tuesday, another delay was required because of a problem at the asphalt plant that caused the job, expected to wrap up in hours, to be completed on Wednesday.
Appearing at the Select Board meeting Tuesday, Tricia Hayes, the spokeswoman for the roundabout project, said the town had set a goal of not only getting the paving done before the weather got too cold but also by Nov. 23, calling it “black for Black Friday.” The commitment was to have blacktop on the roads in time for the shoppers who would be coming to Manchester outlet stores to take advantage of the post-Thanksgiving holiday sales.
At that meeting, the Select Board voted unanimously to dedicate the roundabout as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Circle after speaking with Bill Weeks and Jim Johnson, two Manchester residents who served in Vietnam and belong to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Harned Fowler Post 6471 in Manchester.
Both men had also attended a meeting in October where the Select Board approved the concept of naming the roundabout in honor of veterans. On Tuesday, the board was able to decide on a name but other plans, like the date for a dedication ceremony, have not been finalized.
A plaque explaining the dedication is expected to be put up on the bridge at the southwest area of the roundabout.
Weeks thanked the Select Board for allowing the dedication.
“It’s our honor,” said Wayne Bell, vice chairman of the board.