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Two more accidents at the Route 28/Route 171 intersection



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IN A SIGHT THAT HAS BECOME ALMOST COMMON, motorists waited on Route 28 on Jan. 8 while a tow truck loaded and hauled away a car involved in an accident at the intersection with Route 171 in Ossipee. The driver of this vehicle, Sara MacDonald, 21, of Ossipee, was taken to the hospital where she was treated for minor injuries. (Mellisa Seamans) (click for larger version)
January 16, 2014
OSSIPEE — Once again, on Wednesday, Jan. 8, the intersection of Route 28 and Route 171 in Ossipee was the scene of a motor vehicle accident. As we have reported on numerous occasions, this intersection has been plagued with accidents and local officials are trying to get something done about it.

According to police, on Jan. 8 Sara MacDonald, 21, of Ossipee was driving a 2012 Ford sedan on Route 171. After she stopped at the stop sign, she then pulled out into the path of an oncoming pickup truck. The 1994 Ford pickup was being driven southbound by Wayne Cheney of Tuftonboro. MacDonald was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. Cheney was, according to police, uninjured.

Though details were not available as of press time, police confirmed there was also an accident at the intersection on Jan. 12.

As reported last week, the Route 28/Route 171 intersection has seen an estimated 40 accidents since 2001. NH Department of Transportation reports that there were 32 multi-vehicle collisions and one single vehicle crash at this location during the period of February 2002 to January 2012. Although none of these accidents resulted in a fatality, 17 of those crashes resulted in injuries.

According to a road safety audit of the Route 28/Route 171 intersection conducted in July 2012, in conjunction with state, regional, and local officials, there are several factors that may be contributing to these crashes. Ninety-one percent of the accidents have occurred during daylight hours and the majority involved vehicles pulling out from Route 171 into oncoming Route 28 traffic. Officials believe there are several reasons for this including Route 28 traffic not adhering to speed limits, poor sight distance due to the road crest and curvature, and turn signals that should not be blinking.

Motorists use their right-turn signal to turn from Route 16 southbound to Route 28 southbound but unfortunately, this turn is not sharp enough to cancel the turn signal automatically. This results in motorists approaching the Route 171 intersection, unaware their turn signals are still on. Motorists waiting at the stop signs to enter Route 28 from 171 mistakenly think those cars are turning and proceed into the intersection, causing often high speed collisions.

On Jan. 6, Ossipee selectmen heard the results and recommendations of the auditing team and a two-year timeline of what is going to be done to address the problem. One thing included in the report, and reported in this newspaper last week is that former Ossipee Police Chief and now-selectman Richard Morgan had pushed for installation of a stop light at the intersection but could not win the support of the board of selectmen at the time. Morgan said Jan. 13 that he never made this recommendation and it was never denied and is not sure how that information got into the report. He does not want this misinformation to keep transportation officials from taking a look now at the possibility of a traffic light.

After hearing the report on Jan. 6, Ossipee Board of Selectmen agreed to write a letter in support of its recommendations, including the possibility of a stop light at the Route 171/Route 28 intersection. Other recommendations include adding right turn lanes to both sides of Route 28, repainting lines, ramping up speed enforcement efforts, and keeping obstacles from being planted to obstruct driver's view including election and yard sale signs.

This reporter did speak to several people who regularly use the intersection who mentioned winter is especially difficult with snow banks blocking their view as they enter Route 28 form the Courthouse Square side of Route 171, causing them to have to ease their cars out onto Route 28 just to see if there are any vehicles approaching.

The full road safety audit is available for public viewing at Ossipee Town Hall during normal business hours.

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