Bumper to bumper traffic on the Little Bay Bridge, insufficient parking in downtown Portsmouth, N.H., spiraling gas prices, poor air quality. These quality of life issues are becoming more prevalent and increasingly frustrating for Seacoast area residents. A new project hosted by Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation (COAST) will begin to address these problems.
To ease the flow of traffic congestion during and after the Little Bay Bridge construction project, COAST will receive funding for three to five years from the federal Department of Transportation and the New Hampshire Turnpike Authority.
The project will promote the use of transportation options, such as ridesharing (carpooling and vanpooling), taking the bus, biking, walking, and telecommuting in order to reduce the number of cars on the road. A seacoast Transportation Management Association (TMA) will be created to engage employers and local government representatives as partners.
For decades, TMAs across the country have successfully addressed traffic congestion, air pollution, and parking issues. TMAs typically provide their members such services as distributing information about alternatives to driving alone, surveying members’ employee transportation needs, and helping to develop employer-based transportation plans. Cooperative Alliance for Seacoast Transportation
The project will begin by reaching out to the employers at Pease International Tradeport as an essential part of the market research component.
COAST recently hired Anne Rugg to manage this project. Rugg brings years of experience in community organizing and nonprofit management in the Seacoast. She was the founding executive director of The Housing Partnership, the Workforce Housing Coalition, and the executive director of Aids Response Seacoast. Most recently, she served as the marketing director of NAMI NH. Rugg comments, “I’m delighted to working on this important environmental issue and look forward to collaborating with area businesses and government officials.”
Rugg acknowledges it will be challenging to try to change people’s behavior and attitude, since most people are in the habit of driving alone. She wonders, “Before reaching for our keys, can we pause to re-think this? Could we carpool a couple of times a week or take the COAST bus?” Rugg adds, “Significant cost savings, reduced stress, and an improved environment are some of the compelling reasons to re-think the way we commute.”