December 07, 2011In an effort to improve road safety, selectmen heard from NH Department of Transportation representatives Wednesday, Nov. 30 about replacing and adding roadsigns as part of the Rural Signing Improvement Project.
After a road safety audit, NHDOT crews found several high-risk areas on town and state roads along Route 11-A and Belknap Mountain Road which would qualify for grant funds from the improvement project.
Bill Oldenburg of the NHDOT explained the need of improved roadway markings to reduce automobile accidents.
Citing a national study, Oldenburg explained that improving roadsigns can save lives, and reduces accidents by 20 to 30 percent.
According to Oldenburg, about 60 percent of fatalities occur when drivers leave the road.
The reason Oldenburg said signs need to be replaced is that over time, they loose reflectivity, and are not as viable to motorists at night and during storms — the same times when road visibility is limited and motorist rely more on them.
He said the program also funded additional signs, which are now required on new road construction. He used the example of the curve indicators along sharp turns. Where there may only be two, the state may now require three. Grant funding through the program would pay for the third.
Oldenburg also said they would add more "Stop Ahead" and "Curve Ahead" signs with more accurate advisory speed signs.
Selectmen voiced concern that, if funding ran out, would NHDOT leave the project unfinished.
Oldenburg assured everyone that the project was "all or nothing," and if they started the project, they would see it through to completion.
Department of Public Works Director Sheldon Morgan looked over the preliminary plans, and said he could work with planning because they marked some low traffic roads, such as dead end roads and residential roads with few homes in the area.
Morgan said he would have a recommendation by the next selectmen's meeting, Wednesday, Dec. 14.
Oldenburg suggested that selectmen should host a public hearing before approving the project because some private property may be affected. He also added that the town would be responsible for any addiotnal maintinance or replacement of the signs. According to Oldengurg, after they post the new signs, they become town property.
Selectmen also met with Library Director Katherine Dormody for the Library update.
According to Dormody, it was business as usual at the library. They were in the process of starting up their Winter Reading program for children up to fourth-grade and expanding their Check Out an Expert program because of its huge popularity.
Dormody's update wasn't all positive. Unfortunately, library staff noticed more thefts of their DVD collection over the past few months. According to Dormody, about 50 DVD's were taken without being checked out, and never returned. Selectmen offered some solutions, like larger plastic locking cases for each DVD with a door alarm; unfortunately, the solutions came with a hefty price tag, which Dormody already considered and dismissed. She hoped raising awareness of the problem would be the first step towards a solution.
Town Administrator Scott Dunn updated selectmen on the 12-hour disruption of communication service Tuesday, Nov. 29.
According to Dunn, all phone communication was down, including calls to the Police and Fire Departments, but FairPoint had since fixed the equipment related problem. Dunn said they would be working with FairPoint to prevent this problem from ever occurring again.