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New traffic signs implemented in Lancaster, Town Manager concerned

Signs warn motorists heading north on Main Street, in Lancaster, of the newly erected stop sign, which replaced the familiar yield sign at the intersection of Routes 2 and 3. Brian Emerson. (click for larger version)
November 17, 2010
If you have traveled through downtown Lancaster, along Route 2 or Route 3, this week, you've probably seen the new traffic signs at the intersections of Routes 2 and 3 indicating a new traffic flow pattern. Following a recent Road Safety Audit, prompted by the North Country Council and paid for out of the Federal Safety Improvement Fund, New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) opted to make some changes to the traffic patterns at the intersection of Bridge Street (Route 2) and Main Street (Route 3). In addition, new, updated yield signage can be seen at the Soldier's Park intersection of Routes 2 and 3. These changes were implemented in the interest of improved motorist safety. However, not all see these changes as a safety improvement.

In an interview with Lancaster Town Manager, Ed Samson, regarding the new traffic signs, Mr. Samson stated, "First of all, no recommendation for these changes came from the town. Although a number of affected parties, including town and state representatives, met a couple of months ago to review the results of a recent traffic study done by Eugene Calvert of Collier County Traffic Operations, based in Florida, none of the changes that have been implemented were recommended nor discussed in the study results. Had they been, we would have voiced our concerns and objections at that time."

The Town manager also added, "In the town's review of the new traffic flow plan at the northern intersection, we feel that it has created a whole new batch of safety and traffic flow concerns. I admit that there have been numerous collisions over the years at that intersection, but with the vehicles now having to stop at the new stop sign, it creates a diminished line of sight for vehicles at the existing stop sign that are looking for oncoming traffic from Bridge Street, especially if there is a big truck or several cars stopped at the new stop sign. This, in my opinion, is more dangerous than what existed there previously. I can just imagine what it will be like during the high summer-traffic season. There will potentially be enough vehicles stopped at the new sign, so as to block traffic at the existing sign from moving forward after stopping. I see the potential for this to back traffic up halfway down Main Street at times. These potential traffic back-ups could have a negative impact on several businesses that are located on both Main Street and North Main Street by restricting the access to their establishments."

"We were never notified of the impending changes until the big, orange, flashing signs showed up a week or so ago," Mr. Samson said. "We were never offered any input regarding the proposed changes prior to there implementation. I recently spoke with D.O.T. Commissioner, George Campbell, and expressed the town's displeasure with the new traffic flow patterns and how the whole process was handled. We asked to have a meeting with the D.O.T. engineers that were involved in the decision to make these changes so we could express our concerns. I was very impressed with the Commissioner's willingness to have us meet with the D.O.T. engineers," said Mr. Samson. He also noted that the town has formally asked D.O.T. to repeal the new changes until further studies can be done to address these new safety and traffic concerns.

Mr. Samson, along with two of the town's Selectmen, met on-site Monday morning with DOT District Engineer, Brian Schutt and State Traffic Engineer Bill Lambert to review the town's concerns and recommendations for further studies. Representative Herb Richardson was also on hand, as well as a handful of concerned residents.

Mr. Samson said afterward, "Based on my interpretation of the comments made to the D.O.T. officials, by those present, the new traffic plan is not at all popular with the locals that were there."

Varney Smith
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