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Scenic Drive and 41 additional roads need a change of pace

September 01, 2010
The Board of Selectmen agreed to lower the speed limit on Scenic Drive from 30 mph to 25 mph after hearing multiple concerns from residents.

During the Summer Town Forum on Aug. 11, the board was presented with a petition signed by an estimated 99 residents, asking that the road be assessed, just as Governor's Island and surrounding roads were months ago.

Director of Public Works Sheldon Morgan and Chief of Police John Markland conducted a study after hearing these concerns and recommended that the Board of Selectmen reduce the speed limit to 25 mph for the sake of pedestrians on the much-traveled road.

At the board's meeting Wednesday, Morgan explained that Scenic Drive lies across the southern shore in Lake Winnipesaukee and is a "magnet" for bikers, walkers, and joggers along the road.

While monitoring vehicles on the road, vehicles averaged a speed of 26-29 mph hour while 44 percent of vehicles exceeded the limit of 30 while traveling northwest and 22.7 percent of vehicles exceeded the speed limit while traveling southeast. During the study, 10 vehicles reached recorded highs of 46-50 mph, and one vehicle reached the range of 51-55 mph.

Morgan believed these percentages could result in an unsafe interaction between vehicles and pedestrians enjoying the view.

"Many people have their attention elsewhere and many times their attention is on the lake and the scenic sites, more so than on other roads," said Morgan. "Even in the rain we encountered 15 people walking and biking up and down the streets."

While Scenic Drive concerns have been assuaged and the board approved to reduce the limit to 25 mph, 41 more roads in Gilford still need to be addressed in years to come.

After lowering the speed limit on Governor's Island, Morgan brought forward a full list of other lakefront, short, and dead-end roads, recommending their numbers reduce from 30 to 25 mph or from 35 to 25 mph due to similar safety concerns.

Some roads were also reported to have a lack of shoulder space off the road, a problem with shadowing trees, or no/low salt regulations in the more slippery months to ensure that salt and debris does not seep into the lake.

Morgan said that because some roads are located on neighboring streets, many areas of Gilford may be clumped together to tackle and address a reduction in speed limits in the long run.

The DPW also presented the board with plans to create a complete three-way stop at the intersection of Ridgewood Avenues and Sunset Avenue, about one-third of the way down Ridgewood. Morgan said he believed this would reduce speeds.

Morgan also proposed placing a seasonal rubber speed hump midway between Sunset Avenue and Gilford Avenue to help enforce the speed limit. While some residents were concerned with the noise these speed humps may create, he said they felt it would be a small price to pay if it ensured safer speeds on the road.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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