Junction not so dysfunctional after all?
LACONIA — Saying it worked quite well during the 89th running of Bike Week recently, at least one member of the Laconia City Council is wondering whether the intersection of routes 3 and 11B in The Weirs can forego the installation of a full-blown roundabout and just stick with its new paint job.
That paint job, which is temporary per order of the NH Department of Transportation, does essentially what a traffic island used to do, which is to regulate access to a three-way intersection.
Derisively and popularlyknown as “malfunction” or “dysfunction junction,” the intersection is located just south and east of the Weirs Channel Bridge and it accommodates the coming together of Weirs Boulevard, also known as NH Route 3, and Endicott Street East (NH Route 11B) and of Endicott Street North which begins where the boulevard ends, at the bridge.
The somewhat convoluted right-of-way through the intersection — which, for the record, the Laconia Police Department has said has not been exceptionally dangerous or accidentprone — prompted calls from the city to the NHDOT to do something. The DOT — just as it did in Meredith at the intersection of routes 106 and 3 and in Plymouth at the intersection of Main Street and Route 175 — proposed a roundabout.
The state began work on the roundabout, also known as a rotary, earlier this year but suspended construction until after the tourist season ends in late October. The DOT did, however, put some new asphalt down in the intersection, as well painting signs, lanes, and lines on the ground that make it fairly clear who goes where.
Ward 6 Councilor Armand Bolduc, whose ward comprises The Weirs south of the Weirs Channel Bridge, told his colleagues on Monday that “everybody seems to like it the way it is now.”
The intersection “worked great during Bike Week” on June 9-17, and the consensus, at least from the folks he has spoken with, is that the new paint job is all that was required to keep traffic flowing efficiently.
City Manager Scott Myers reminded Bolduc that the state has said it would build a roundabout and, is, in fact, in the process of doing just that. While speculating that it might be for safety reasons, Myers told Bolduc that he would nonetheless ask the DOT about why the state is pursuing the roundabout when simple paint seems to be accomplishing the same goal of reasonable vehicle control.
In planning for the roundabout, DOT engineers held several public meetings in Laconia and discussed options for the intersection, including a simple t-shape realignment, before concluding that a roundabout was the best way to deal with the traffic bottlenecks caused by the intersection.