Traffic Safety Committee Hears Intersection Concerns

The largest agenda in 20 years faced the Traffic Safety Committee on Monday night.

The committee, which meets quarterly, is designed to address resident concerns with traffic issues. Members include Chief of Police Bill Hart, Fire Chief Darren O’Brien, Town Manager Kevin Smith, Public Works and Engineering Director Janusz Czyzowski, Town Council liaison Jim Butler, chairman Robert Ramsey and secretary Suzanne Hebert.

Ramsay has been a member of the committee representing the business sector for 20 years and has been chair for 17 years. He said as a general rule there are no visitors listed on the agenda.

That was not the case Monday night, as resident Karen Young led off the meeting by speaking about the increased flow of traffic on Route 28 from Hood Plaza, making entering and exiting Seasons Lane more difficult. She said there are poor sightlines and sometimes cars park along the bike trail, adding to the difficulties. She said accidents at the intersection were increasing.

Information on accidents at that intersection showed there have been 23 over the last 15 years, and 12 in the last five years.

Because Route 28 is a state highway, there isn’t much Londonderry can do, but Hart said more patrols could be sent to that area, and that would likely slow down drivers, although it would have no impact on traffic volume. All Londonderry can do is start a conversation with the state about the matter.

Deb Paul, Nutfield Publishing owner, interjected that the situation is only going to get worse with developments being built and planned for the north part of town. She said the issues of dangerous intersections, speeding and signage, and the growing number of cars due to the developments, should be made available to both the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA), and the projected growth should be taken into consideration by those boards and the state.

Smith said the increase in traffic from proposed and under construction developments is taken into consideration at both Planning and ZBA, and developers have to include road, highway and intersection improvements to address expected traffic increases. However, he said the state does not consider anything but what exists at the moment, and gives no consideration to developments being built or planned.

In other business:

• Tiffany Richardson, who has a son at North Elementary School, circulated a petition last week that she plans to send to the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT). She thanked the committee for doing some of the things she had requested at Sanborn Road and Route 28 in the area of North School.

Her petition proposes the state install a set of lights at the intersection. She said that would help not only the school but the Trailways traffic crossing Route 28.

“I drive my son to and from school along with other parents and bus drivers,” she said, noting North School is on Sanborn Road, off Route 28. “Entering and leaving school, trying to cross Route 28, is a death sentence, with drivers in both directions speeding well over the limit daily. There is nothing warning drivers from 7:30 to 9 a.m. and 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. to slow their speed to 30 miles per hour.”

Ramsay pointed out Londonderry has no control over state roads. He said the town has been trying to get a blinking yellow light that was inoperable and removed from the Route 28 and Sanborn Road intersection replaced

The main issue is that the school is not on Route 28. There is a “School Crossing” sign on Route 28, but that doesn’t help much with speeders.

Hart said he would look into putting the Londonderry Police portable flashing radar speed sign there and try to get a permanent one for the location if funds could be found.

Ramsay noted that while a traffic light is not warranted at the intersection according to the state, it still might be possible to petition for a lower speed limit in the area of the intersection.

Paul suggested narrowing the roadway by moving the fog lines to slow drivers down. She was told there is no way the state would consider narrowing Route 28, which would only make it more dangerous.

Bob Rimol, Londonderry Trailways project manager, said his organization spent $4,000 for a traffic study aimed at trying to get a traffic light at that intersection but according to the state, the traffic numbers did not warrant a light. He said Trailways is trying to get a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (HAWK) approved and installed to facilitate kids crossing and getting Trailways access across Route 28. The hybrid beacon is used to warn or control traffic at an unsignalized location to assist pedestrians crossing a street or highway at a marked crosswalk.

The cost of the engineering is $10,000; the system itself costs approximately $214,000.

• A discussion of the Stonehenge and Bartley Hill Road intersection ensued but ultimately was deferred to the January meeting of the committee. Among the issues raised was the possibility of a four-way stop at Hardy and Stonehenge roads.

• Paul told Ramsay she is disturbed that the committee’s minutes are not updated and that agendas don’t appear on the Town Web site. She added that she is concerned that the committee doesn’t follow policy and procedures as far as getting information out to the public regarding issues residents bring to the committee, and thinks those issues should be forwarded to the Planning and Zoning boards.

“People don’t know what this committee is doing,” she said.

She asked if there was an open position on the committee and learned that Ramsay is the only non-town official on the committee, but that there can be a second at-large position.

Ramsay said he has appointed people to that position many times but because of the committee’s quarterly meetings and the fact that there are usually no people with issues, members lose interest and resign.

Smith said he would look into the agenda and minutes issue and get the at-large position opening posted.

Paul also suggested the committee consider meeting on a monthly basis as Derry does, but Ramsay said there aren’t sufficient issues to warrant that. He said most of the time people call him at home and things get resolved at that time.

Paul said that is not appropriate and the calls and discussions should be on the record.

Ramsay’s long tenure was also questioned by Paul was told there are no term limits on the position. She was told that if she is not happy with the way the committee is operating, she should address the matter with the Town Council.

Town Council liaison Jim Butler said the committee and what it is doing seems to be working.

• Jeannine Curro of High Range Road told the committee she is concerned with the intersection of Pillsbury and Mammoth roads. Making a left-hand turn from Pillsbury onto Mammoth is difficult and traffic backs up during rush hour, she said.

“It can take three or four light cycles to get through the lights, which can result in some taking risky turns and running the red light,” she said.

She suggested making each side of Pillsbury a dedicated light, meaning that only one side has the light at a time. There is a precedent for this, she said, at the intersection of Gilcreast Road and Route 102, and it works.

The committee liked her suggestion and even though the timing of lights has to go to the state, she was told they could talk to the state and see if anything could be done about the sequence of lights at Pillsbury and Mammoth.

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