Speed limit on Route 137 raised to 40 mph

  • William Lambert, a bureau of traffic administrator, meets with elected and town officials in Hancock Monday, March 28, 2016. (Benji Rosen/Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) —Staff photo by Benji Rosen

  • William Lambert, a bureau of traffic administrator, meets with elected and town officials in Hancock Monday, March 28, 2016. (Benji Rosen/Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) —Staff photo by Benji Rosen

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/30/2016 7:46:39 PM

The Select Board gave the Department of Transportation the nod Monday to raise the speed limit on Route 137 from 35 mph to 40 mph, after the bureau of traffic found a large percentage of drivers speed on part of the highway.

A traffic study the bureau performed earlier this month found 48 mph was the speed the 85th percentile of drivers drive on Route 137 between north of Longview Road to Route 202.

“They’re going to drive it how they feel,” said Kurtis Grassett, the director of public works. “We’re making criminals out of law-abiding citizens.”

The 35 mph zone on Route 37 is about a one-mile stretch from Longview Road to Antrim Road. Because Route 137 is maintained by the state, NHDOT holds the authority to raise or lower the posted speed limit. Yet, William Lambert, a bureau of traffic administrator, consulted with the board, Grassett and Police Chief Andrew Wood Monday in order to hear their feedback. Lambert started the meeting by reviewing NHDOT’s findings.

Although a large number of drivers drive 48 mph on the highway, Lambert was nervous to increase the speed limit to 45 mph because of a concentration of crashes on a curve near the intersection of Longview Road.

“The crash rate for this section of highway is 30 percent above the average for similar roads (based on national statistics),” a memorandum that summarizes the study reads. “The crash rate appears to be driven by a cluster of crashes, including a fatal.”

According to Lambert, those 13 crashes occurred in the past 13 years.

Data for the traffic study was collected from March 10 to March 14. The incentive for the study, Lambert said, was the board requested the bureau look at speeding there.

Only Erik Spitzbarth, a board member, disagreed with Lambert’s recommendation. “My take is 45 mph...they drive what they’re comfortable with,” said Spitzbarth. He said the high concentration of crashes on Longview Road could be the sum total of a driver texting, weather conditions or other contributing factors.

Wood, the police chief, said that if NHDOT increased the speed limit to 45 mph, he expected there to be more accidents.

Forty mph was also the speed limit a web-based tool the Federal Highway Administration provides recommends.

Lambert and the officials there agreed it can review speed limit in the next few years. They will also explore road improvements to the Longview Road intersection.

Nathaniel and Anne Pierce also complained about tractor-trailer traffic on Route 137 near Main Street.

Benji Rosen can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228, or brosen@ledgertranscript.com.




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