Do You Think About Hudson Traffic When You’re Not Stuck In It?

August 24, 2018


by Len Lathrop

Hudson selectmen, at their Aug. 14 meeting acting on the recommendation from the Planning Board, authorized the use of traffic-monitoring equipment for four more intersections of Hudson.

This expenditure comes from impact fees and will add equipment at the Kimball/Greeley/Route 111 intersection, Lowell Road at Pelham Road, the Fox Hollow/Nottingham Plaza at Lowell Road intersection and the Route 102/Derry Road and Elm Avenue intersection. This equipment will allow the staff to view the traffic at those intersections, and if deemed that a difference can be made will warrant some additional funds which could tie these four intersections into the traffic-controlling software already installed with monitors and control function from the town engineer’s office.

Presently the engineer can watch the Library Park intersections and see how the traffic on the various streets is moving. Elvis Dhima, the Town Engineer, invited HLN over to see how the system worked. Do you know that from 3 to 4 p.m. last Friday 309 cars ran the red light at inbound Ferry Street and Chase Street, most turning onto Derry Road? A few caveats, so keep cooler heads: state laws preclude recording traffic from these cameras, and you cannot read license plates. Folks crossing the street can be seen, but cannot be identified.

From his office Dhima can observe traffic move through the four intersections, how long the wait is for the lights to change, and can see when traffic is affecting other intersections. The intersection cannot be recorded but the equipment counts the vehicle movement, based on time and the color of the intersection light.

Take a second and hazard a guess at how many cars and trucks travel through the Library Park intersection. Let’s look at a couple of days. If you guessed under 25,000 cars you might be thinking of just one of the three intersections — but the real number on May 8, 2018, the day that a train in Nashua got stuck and brought traffic to a crawl in Hudson at Ferry and Chase, 35,447 vehicles; at Library and Ferry 24,614; and at Library and Highland 27,448 for a total of 87,509. On a random day the counts at Ferry and Chase were 33,698; at Library and Ferry 23,605 and at Library and Highland 25,760 for a total of 83,063.

While those numbers become real in your brain, Elvis Dhima reported that the counts for 2012-2013 averaged 42,331 per day; how the numbers were generated is not known as there weren’t cameras back then, but the engineer’s forecast is for about 88,000 in September when schools open and 90,000 for next year. Hate to think that the volume might increase 100 percent in five years.

With the next step for four new intersections to have cameras, think what the Lowell Road counts will be when the town ramps up the traffic cameras at Pelham and Lowell. The $16,000 expenditure approved last week is only part of the equipment and programming compared to what the town can do in the Library Park area. The estimate is it will take another $5,000 to get the same data at the four new intersections as has been installed at Library Park.

Dhima also mentioned that no matter how well Hudson moves traffic through Library Park, especially in the morning, a lot has to do with how Nashua moves the traffic once it crosses the bridge to Nashua. While Nashua currently has three potential plans for the end of the Taylor Fall bridges, our Engineer reported that at a meeting last week in Nashua the plans involved very little, if any, discussion regarding the impact on Hudson.