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Proposed Fox Hollow designs raise concerns with selectmen

November 11, 2009
MOULTONBORO — Suggested new designs in the proposed project at the Fox Hollow intersection are raising concerns about project feasibility and possible property impacts.

Plans are being drawn out for improvements to the intersection of Fox Hollow Road and Route 25 following state approval of funds, a vote in favor at town meeting and word of the receipt of ARRA funding.

Design issues have arisen regarding average speed on the road. The speed limit on Route 25 by the intersection is 45 miles per hour. A speed study, however, said the 85th percentile of speed was 55 miles per hour, the speed the state recommends designing the road for. If designed to speed specifications for a 55-mile per hour road, Route 25 would have to be lowered by six-and-a-half feet, which engineers said would have a resoundingly negative impact on abutting driveways.

The state asked engineers to come up with two plans, one for a 45-mile an hour speed area and one for a 55-mile per hour area.

After discussions, the state compromised and asked for a design for 50 miles per hour. During a meeting on Thursday, the state then asked for a design for 50 miles per hour that applied to the south end of the intersection.

Project engineers Ray Korber and Bob Rook of KVPartners presented the three plans to the Selectmen as well as the preliminary "50-south" plan.

The 45-mile per hour plan would put a westbound turn lane and a right lane slip into Fox Hollow Road. There would be a 360-foot overall profile, which would require some slope cutting and would impact two properties.

The second option is for 55 miles per hour, which would require Route 25 to be lowered by six-and-a-half feet to maintain site distance. This option was agreed to not be feasible by engineers and town officials.

The 50-mile per hour plan would require the road to be lowered by two-feet, nine inches. Rook said if the existing centerline was held, cutting back the left-hand edge of the road would pose problems for some properties.

In the preliminary details of the 50-south plan proposed on Thursday, the pavement on the northern edge of the road would be held with more work being done on the southern side, which Rook said "mitigates one edge, exacerbates the other edge."

The 50-south plan was proposed the day of the Selectmen's meeting. In order to put together more of a plan, additional surveying would need to be done and the engineers would have to be authorized to do additional design work, all at an additional cost of $10,000. Terenzini said the town has the option of telling the state that they will not do the additional design work as work has been done already, however it might be best to do the work as requested to maintain relations with the state. The current engineer's contract is $75,000.

Korber said with all the options for projects, the ballpark figure for the cost is around $700,000. Korber said figures for the project are based on what the Department of Transportation said is necessary. Additionally that section of Route 25 will need to be reclaimed and it is likely there are areas of retaining wall.

"There's so many issues and so many variables in play," Korber said

Any of the options would result in impacts to neighboring properties, the 50-mile-an-hour options impacting a few properties in particular around the corner. Rook said one of the first driveways in that area had a 13 percent grade.

"I don't know if its doable or not," Rook said.

Engineers and town officials said the project cannot move forward unless they speak with one particular property owner on the corner who would be the most impacted.

Selectman Betsey Patten asked if other Board members felt there was a need to redo the intersection.

Korber said there is a low build option, which only involves opening the throat of the intersection at Fox Hollow to improve sight distance with no road widening. Terenzini said this option does not address issues of vehicles stopped in traffic trying to make a turn from Route 25 onto Fox Hollow.

"I think we have a project here that is more in depth than we ever envisioned," said Board Chair Karel Crawford. "I don't believe we're committed to anything if it's not feasibly possible or in our means to do it."

"I think at this point we need to continue on ways until we reach the point where we say it isn't going to happen," said Selectman Joel Mudgett. "I think we need to do surveying, take it back to the state and say, 'This is what we can offer.'"

Selectman Ed Charest said the town is going to have liability if something happened at the intersection and the town has not worked to improve it. Charest said he has already seen incidents at the intersection and had a near-miss there himself.

"I think everybody had good intentions, but it gets to the point of how much can you do with the means that you have to do this project," Crawford said.

The Selectmen met in nonpublic session to discuss issues related to one property on the corner that engineers said was a lynchpin in the project.

Martin Lord and Osman
Salmon Press
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