Amherst, NH, is a small historic village in New England with over 300 years of history. The town faced traffic safety challenges and wanted to use already-allocated repaving funds to improve street safety. Specifically, the town sought shared streets inspiration that balanced safety and historic preservation.

Mobycon was chosen for it’s extensive experience with planning and designing shared streets. The project included a review of existing conditions (including understanding the town’s long history), public and stakeholder engagement, draft scenario design, and support for a steering committee that would discuss and evaluate the menu of options.

Given the town’s historic nature, it was crucial for us to fully understand the existing conditions before proposing design solutions. This involved a comprehensive site visit, thorough historical research, and an extensive public outreach campaign. We used a listening-first approach to understand the town’s needs and design a street plan that improves safety while also fitting within the local context and respecting the town’s lengthy history.

This project, a testament to the importance of a robust public process filled with listening, was a collaborative effort. It highlighted the challenges of designing for historic small towns, but also the town’s  team of dedicated volunteers, a strong culture of civic involvement, and a well-documented history, including shared spaces.

The final deliverable provided design options for the village streets, ranging from a few small modifications to complete re-designs. These options included using  alternative paving materials to encourage desired driver behavior.  The Village Safe Streets Commission reviewed these design options to determine the most appropriate solution. The Town is identifying funding opportunities to implement preferred designs during scheduled road work in 2025.