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Designation of Huse as one-way, seasonal road is reversed


October 14, 2009
SANBORNTON — After residents packed Town Hall last week to talk with selectmen about Huse Road being designated a one-way, seasonal road, the decision has been reversed and other alternatives will be looked into to resolve traffic and speeding concerns.

The change was made in September as the board heard complaints and concerns from residents about traffic, speeding and other hazards with the narrow dirt road.

"When we made this decision we listened to everyone who came before us," said Chairman Andrew Livernois. "The police department, public works- we didn't do this lightly. There's been talk about this since 2006."

Only a few residents, he said, had come to the board and those people were supportive of actions taken on the road.

In the end of August, however, the selectmen received a petition with 113 signatures asking them to reconsider their decision. A public hearing was then scheduled to get more input from those who lived in the area.

Jason Dodge, who initially brought the petition to the board, said that people in that section of town depended on Huse Road to travel to the beach, visit friends and generally go about their daily business.

"This change has had more of an impact than we thought," said Dodge.

He suggested that the town return the road to two-way traffic and post signs to "pass at your own risk" or "local traffic only."

"There are other ways to handle this," he said.

GPS systems once again seemed to be the bane of residents in Sanbornton, having faced similar situations where visitors to Steele Hill were getting lost on many of the town's back roads by following the technological mapping devices.

Concern also arose about local contractor A.E. Mitchell owning lots on Huse Road. John Giere, legal representative for Westcott Law, said that a seasonal designation to the road would "render these lots unsalable."

Many people were upset that the one-way signs, as per RSA 26523, make it illegal for people riding horses or bicycles in the wrong direction on the road. Sharon Dugan said that Huse Road was important to those who rode horses in the area because Lower Bay Road "is lethal" to equestrians. Katie Manson agreed and stated that a one-way designation for the road was not going to resolve the issues.

Marjorie Hillman spoke up to defend the board's earlier decision. She had been subjected to vulgar gestures from people speeding without "regard to animals or people walking," she said. "This isn't about convenience, it's about safety."

The road was originally intended for a minimal use of local traffic, and GPS systems, she said, have changed that.

Chief Mark Barton has monitored the road to look for speeding violations and other troubles on Huse Road. Selectman Dave Nickerson reported that the chief, over the two weeks he had officers posted there, did not find any of these violations. Dirt roads, Nickerson said, can be misleading as to how fast a vehicle is actually traveling.

After hearing suggestions from those in attendance on what they would prefer to see done with the road, the selectmen voted to rescind their decision, returning Huse Road to a two-way, year-round status. John Thayer, director of Public Works, was instructed to remove the signs and the selectmen said they would work to come up with a better solution.

"We'll talk more with Chief Barton and Thayer," Nickerson told the residents. "I know the fire department was concerned, too, as they can't go against traffic."

Livernois said there was a possibility that changing the geometry of the road as it turns off Upper Bay Road, could be changed, slowing people down as they drive onto Huse from the upper end.

The board will also work with MapQuest and Steele Hill to come up with alternative solutions to people being directed onto the dirt road.

Following the meeting, Jason Dodge was pleased with the outcome and glad that selectmen heard what the residents had to say.

"We tried it for a couple months," he said. "It didn't work and they put it back the way it was, so that's good."

Martin Lord Osman
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