Norwich business owners talk about the city center roundabout months later

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a roundabout cost correction. Norwich Director of Public Works Patrick J. McLaughlin put the cost at just over $600,000.

NORWICH – Consternation abounded before work on a new roundabout in Norwich city center was completed at the end of September.

“There is no place to park and run inside very quickly; there is no place to park and go to the convenience store very quickly; there is no place to park and get your Chinese food,” Norwich resident Justin Smith told the Bulletin in September.

On Wednesday, under gloomy skies, it looked like fears had died down as traffic moved easily on the circular causeway marking the center of the city.

“I don’t mind, it looks pretty,” Chandra Kalra said.

Kalra has owned the R&A Convenience store for 18 years. Originally born in India, the longtime Norwich resident said she feels like the city is her home now.

But beyond aesthetics, the local business owner said parking was a bit of an issue with the new traffic pattern.

When delivery trucks arrive at his store, drivers sometimes can’t find a place to park before they can unload drinks and other goods to stock the shelves and coolers inside the local store. Instead of making their delivery, Kalsa said, they left with a promise to return in a day or two to follow up.

“It’s not my problem,” she said Wednesday. “They will arrive late and the cooler is always empty… We need a big place to park the trucks.

“[When it comes] to small businesses, [the city] don’t even care,” she added.

The problem for R&A Convenience is not shared by other business owners in the region.

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Jackie Quercia, owner of Norwich Coin and Jewelry, said she was proud of the results of the city’s road project.

The project, which cost just over $600,000, was completed in late September by Massachusetts-based construction firm Nunes Companies, replacing an intersection that often caused traffic jams and impeded vehicle traffic in the downtown area. .

“I love it, the traffic is flowing so well now,” she said. “I just don’t know why people are complaining about it.”

Prior to its completion, many residents expressed concern about the plans, wondering how it would affect the flow of travel through the city.

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“[Mayor] Peter Nystrom said everything would be fine,” Quercia told the Bulletin on Wednesday. “And I trust Peter Nystrom.”

Contacted for comment later in the day, Mayor Nystrom said he had received no complaints about the new traffic pattern and was personally pleased with the outcome of the project.

“I like it,” Nystrom said. “Getting in and out of downtown is so easy and quick.”

Prior to the completion of the project, a light-signalled intersection may have offered more parking spaces; but it has also created headaches for travelers, the mayor added.

“With the lights on it would be a traffic jam in all directions as you enter the center, now everything is freeing up in its path,” he said.

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The mayor said there were no more roundabouts currently planned, but suggested there might be some work to be done at the intersection in front of the courthouse one block away.

“You go through that roundabout and immediately hit a red light – that seems counterproductive,” he said. “We didn’t have the money for an engineer’s design to see if it was possible, so it remains to be answered.”