Improved Main Street stretch pleases Manchester officials


Manchester officials said they are pleased with the results of a two-year Main Street beautification project that includes new sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping.

"It's looking good," said Mayor Christopher B. D'Amario.

The $4.2 million streetscape project, between Beaver Street and Holland Drive, includes new and improved sidewalks, retaining walls, storm drains, curbs, streetlights and other landscaping. It was primarily funded by a State Highway Administration program that worked with local municipalities to improve their main streets.

The project came in "on time and on budget," said Kelly J. Baldwin, Manchester's finance director.

The town contributed $542,672 for a new water main, which marked the first step in construction in July 2003.

The project is essentially complete, although a few items remain, D'Amario said.

"We have a punch list, then we'll do the final walk-through," he said. "It's just a formality."

A key part of the project for the 4,400 town residents is the two new turn lanes on Main Street at Route 27 and York Street.

Main Street - also known as Route 30 or Hanover Pike - is a major commuter route that in 2002 carried 17,000 to 19,000 vehicles a day through the bottleneck intersections, according to State Highway Administration traffic counts.

D'Amario praised former Councilman Daniel C. Riley, who headed the Main Street project since it was first discussed in 2000, and the town's public works director, Steve Miller.

"Danny and Steve really are the ones that kept the project together. Every time there was a problem, they stuck with it," D'Amario said. "It's like when you rehab a house: You find little things you didn't expect, so you have to kind of regroup and re-evaluate. So they did a lot of engineering on site."

"Everything went fine," said Riley, who decided not to seek another council term in last month's town election. "The project turned out well; at least I thought so. Things went well, on schedule, and it's just about finished."

The completion of the project did not affect his decision not to run again, said Riley, who served 1 1/2 council terms during the 1970s, and then was elected again in 1997 and 2001.

"I just felt I did my share. ... It just happened that it came all at the same time," said Riley, 74, a lifelong Manchester resident.

Former Manchester Mayor Elmer C. Lippy, 85, who has always lived on York Street, said the construction was disruptive, but "we're quite happy with it now."

Lippy said the town's appearance also will be improved because of a new town ordinance approved last month to license rental housing and to require upkeep of the properties.

"I think that's a real step forward," he said, noting that a few rundown houses mar "the presentation of Main Street as a beautiful place."

Like the current town officials, Lippy said Manchester needs a bypass to get the Route 30 traffic off its new, beautified Main Street.

"We're grateful for it," Lippy said of the project.

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