Concord, N.H.: Main street reconstruction

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Concord, N.H.’s reconstructed main street is impressive for its design, infrastructural components and its economic results. In reconstructing main street, the New Hampshire capital (pop. 43,000) sought to make its eight-block main street corridor more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly and to increase downtown market-rate housing. An overarching goal was to vitalize what Deputy City Manager for Development Carlos Baia called main street’s “somewhat tired” nature.

Concord officials began the $14 million reconstruction process in 2012, beginning construction in 2014 and completing it in 2016. Officials used ample public meetings to gather public input and keep residents engaged. “It was truly a grassroots project,” Baia says.

The city’s design team worked with the Federal Highway Administration and ultimately used a “Super Two” lane configuration — two 15-foot automotive and bicycle travel lanes, a 6-foot traversable cobblestone median and parallel and angle parking. Ultimately, street and parking space was reduced for the new model.

Additionally, sidewalk space was expanded to 22-feet-wide. LED streetlights, high-quality paver-made crosswalks and granite sidewalks and curbs were added to ensure infrastructural sustainability. Of 18 storefronts that weren’t disability-friendly, 15 were made accessible through grating and ramp building.    

During the first year of construction, 10 new businesses moved into the corridor. More moved in during the first six months of completion, and the vacancy rate is down from over 10 percent to six percent. 

“It’s a place that is welcoming and accessible. It’s also a place that’s thriving now,” Baia says.