Regional Transportation Needs
The region has a growing need for improved and increased transportation services, whether volunteer, public or for-profit service, for those without access to an automobile (or who would use a convenient and efficient alternative). Increased motor-vehicle use has led to significant air-quality problems, sprawling development, roadway congestion, and dependence on nonrenewable resources. To improve environmental quality, personal health and well-being, the region needs to identify and implement a public transportation program that meets the needs of its population (See “Chapter 3: Findings and Recommendations”, SRTP 2007, page 62). City leadership should officially become part of the new Transportation Management Authority through the Southwest Region Planning Commission.
Bicycle and Pedestrian
Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is a growing component of the region’s transportation system. They improve quality of life and often provide an alternative to the automobile. Too often, however, this infrastructure does not receive consistent maintenance and preservation. All bicycle and pedestrian facilities should be preserved and maintained in a manner that promotes safety and efficiency and minimizes lifetime costs. Increased monitoring of use and condition is important.
When possible, the region should continue to expand its bicycle and pedestrian network in a way that maximizes its contribution to the region’s economic growth and vitality. Safety, connectivity, and accessibility are key considerations (See “Chapter 3: Findings and Recommendations,” SRTP 2007, page 62).
The region should establish and support a formalized rideshare program. The Contoocook Valley Transportation Company (CVTC) has created such a program that primarily serves the region’s eastern towns. Employers in Keene and towns to the north, west and south of the city should pursue collaboration with CVTC to create an effective and efficient regional rideshare program. Doing so can save participants money, reduce air pollution, save resources and create social-interaction opportunities (See “Chapter 3: Findings and Recommendations,” SRTP 2007, page 62).
Interregional Travel and Multi-Modal Connectivity
Quick, easy travel into and out of the region is important to the regional economy. Perhaps the largest need is connection to other, existing regional transportation options from Keene to surrounding destination points, such as Concord and Manchester/Nashua. Access from those destinations to Boston, New York City and Montreal is feasible through other public transportation providers or via transfer to another transportation mode. However, this should be deemed a short-term solution to a larger, long-term need.
Current transportation projects in eastern New Hampshire are expanding the I-93 corridor and extending commuter rail from Lowell, Massachusetts, to Nashua and eventually Manchester. To the south, MassHighway plans to continue expanding and improving Route 2 as well as expanding commuter rail along this corridor from Fitchburg to Gardner, Massachusetts. The completion in 1980 of the expansion of Massachusetts State Route 140 from Route 2 near Gardner, Massachusetts, to Route 12 in Winchendon, Massachusetts, dramatically decreased travel time between greater Boston and the southwest region. Economic growth will follow along these corridors, and it is imperative that our region is adequately connected to it. It is also important to maintain and expand links to the larger New England economy through enhancement of the NH 12 and NH 101 corridors and establishing multimodal connectivity (See “Chapter 3: Findings and Recommendations,” SRTP 2007, page 62).
The movement of goods into and out of the region is a major function of our current transportation system. It also impacts our region’s food and energy security. Truck traffic – the primary way of moving goods into and out of Keene – is growing, and is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. As a result, it is important that goods movement is considered as part of all future transportation planning studies and highway and bridge reconstruction projects. (See “Chapter 3: Findings and Recommendations,” SRTP 2007, page 62)
Regional Land Use/Transportation Connection
As stated previously, there is a strong connection between land use and transportation. Transportation facilities determine what land uses can be supported, and land uses determine what transportation facilities are needed. Planning for either should take place in a cooperative and complementary manner, not in isolation. Regional transportation needs and local land-use and development objectives must be balanced with transportation planning and investment decision-making.
Whenever possible, the region’s communities should be encouraged to pursue infill development, with particular attention to the redevelopment of brownfields. Because the infrastructure is already in place, infill development and redevelopment is an efficient use of the region’s physical resources.
Preservation of existing active and abandoned rights-of-way for future transportation use is strongly recommended. These rights-of-way often pass through desirable locations; once fragmented, they would be difficult and expensive to restore.
Without the use of the private automobile, Keene and the region are essentially isolated. Keene must assist in supporting multimodal regional transportation solutions that provide mode choice, increase the availability of interregional public transport, promote compact development and protect community character, and promote the efficient and secure movement of goods – all while keeping in mind community connectivity, climate change and sustainability goals. (See “Chapter 3: Findings and Recommendations,” SRTP 2007, page 62)