Residents petition for dangerous intersection solutions
June 10, 2009
MOULTONBORO — In the wake of a collision of dump trucks, a group of concerned residents signed a petition last week asking selectmen to revisit solutions for a Route 25 intersection with Sheridan Road.
Last Tuesday, around 2:30 p.m., Robert Dunlap, 61, of Sandwich, was driving his fully-loaded dump truck eastbound on Route 25, while Scott Mudgett, 32, of Tamworth, was driving his own truck westbound on the same route. According to the police report, Dunlap "did not see" a car stopped on the road to make a left-hand turn onto Sheridan Road, and another car stopped behind it. In an attempt to avoid striking the cars, Dunlap moved into the westbound lane, striking Mudgett, who then struck a utility pole on the side of the road. Both dump trucks suffered heavy damage, but no one was hurt in the accident.
For Moultonboro resident Shirley Oliver, however, it was the final straw. She, along with 35 other residents, signed a petition expressing concern about the recent accident, and asking the selectmen to revisit the Route 25 Corridor Study.
"I really feel something needs to be done without delay," said Oliver. "The June 2 accident illustrates the danger at the Sheridan intersection. I'm amazed that it wasn't a tragedy. For years, since we were children, accidents have happened there. Something's got to be done, and our hope is that something can be done quickly."
In a study conducted by Moultonboro staff and Police Chief Scott Kinmond last year, the Sheridan Road intersection ranked second in a list of the seven most dangerous Rt. 25 intersections in Moultonboro.
When the final figures were tallied, the Rt. 25 intersection most in need of work was determined to be Redding Lane, near the Robbs Citgo. It was followed by Sheridan Road, Lake Shore east, Lake Shore west, Glidden Road, Fox Hollow Road, and Saw Mill Road. Town Administrator Carter Terenzini reported that in the period of time researched by Police Chief Scott Kinmond, Redding Lane intersection recorded 22 accidents, Sheridan Road had 23, Sawmill Road had 21, and Fox Hollow had 18.
With a few reservations, the Moultonboro Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to move the Fox Hollow Road project to the top of the list for repairs, provided that the Department of Transportation comes through with the promised two-thirds funding, later approved this year at Town Meeting. The funding came at the behest of Fox Hollow resident Stewart Lamprey, a former Speaker of the State House and Senate, who recently worked as an unpaid assistant to help a state department "with some problems." While doing the work, Lamprey said, he spoke with Department of Transportation Commissioner George Campbell about the problem, who agreed that a solution had to be found for everyone on the road. Lamprey urged selectmen to take advantage of the offer, which he said probably wouldn't happen again for another few decades.
Though selectmen expressed concern about prioritizing the Fox Hollow intersection above those listed as more dangerous, they decided to take advantage of the opportunity and work on the Fox Hollow intersection. Recently, the town announced that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act would fully fund the project, meaning that $261,376 would be returned to the town.
Selectman Chair Karel Crawford said the town would share the petition with the
DOT, and would try and get feedback from them, "perhaps even a public meeting." She expressed her own concerns about the intersection.
"It's a terrible intersection," said Crawford. "When someone's in front of me trying to take a left-hand turn onto Sheridan Road, my eyes are riveted to the rearview mirror."
Selectman Betsey Patten spoke about the possibility of acquiring some nearby land at the intersection, for the purpose of widening the road to create a left-hand turn lane. Resident Peter Jensen said that low-cost solutions could be explored as well, such as placing a "no left-hand turn" sign near the intersection.
"That (the accident) was just too close for comfort," said Oliver.