DOT talks Route 101 and 202 woes in Peterborough

  • Residents filled the room for a meeting with the DOT to talk about Route 101 and Concord Street safety issues on Tuesday. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton—

  • State traffic engineer Bill Lambert presented on the limitations of speed limits in traffic control at a meeting about Route 101 and Concord Street safety issues in Peterborough on Tuesday. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton

  • NH DOT Assistant Commissioner Bill Cass spoke to residents about Route 101 and Concord Street safety issues in Peterborough on Tuesday. Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/12/2020 9:02:31 PM

New Hampshire Department of Transportation traffic engineer Bill Lambert addressed a petition submitted by residents asking DOT to lower the speed limit on Route 101 at a public forum at the Peterborough Town House Tuesday night.

Roughly half the audience of 45 came to hear solutions on speeding on Route 101 between Route 202 and Miller State Park, the other half to hear the DOT’s plan for recurring drainage problems and pedestrian safety on Route 202/Concord Street.

Some residents are calling on the DOT to improve safety for residents and pedestrians, particularly around the Route 123 and Old Street Road intersection, by lowering the speed limit on Route 101 between Route 123 and the Miller State Park entrance.

Lambert said DOT has a plan for an intersection conflict warning system at the intersection of Routes 123 and 101. The system would activate flashing lights on Route 101, 250 feet in advance of the intersection, he said, but only when a vehicle was entering the intersection from Route 123 or Old Street Road. The project is a pilot measure that could stand to reduce crashes by double-digit percentages, he said.

NH DOT Assistant Commissioner Bill Cass said they developed the plan after their initial proposal to increase the line of sight at the intersection by cutting back into hillsides, was determined to have too much of an impact on local property values. They would be advertising for the warning system this spring, he said.

Several residents expressed frustration that more couldn’t be done. Lowering the posted speed limit from 40 miles per hour is not likely to solve any problems, Lambert said, and additional signage tends to have limited efficacy on driving habits.

“When we have speed limits that are unreasonably low, it leaves it up to law enforcement or the driver to determine the real appropriate speed,” he said.

The standing speed limit of 40 miles per hour is justified by state standards, Lambert said, and a traffic study clocked the average speed on Route 101 in the vicinity of Route 123 at 48.4 miles per hour. Several residents reported a lack of police presence on the stretch of road. Lambert said he encourages drivers and law enforcement to lower their tolerance for speeding.

Resident Posy Bass said DOT’s typical strategy of clearing trees and hazards to create a longer line of sight appears to be in direct conflict with traffic calming measures.

“Who doesn’t want to drive fast on a big wide road?” she asked, and suggested the DOT consider traffic calming measures in strategic locations along Route 101.

District Engineer John Caulfield acknowledged that adding climbing lanes in the 1970s likely exacerbated speeding problems, but also noted that wider corridors helped sunlight to reach the pavement and melt ice during the winter.

“It’s a balance,” Lambert agreed.

Several residents of Concord Street spoke to their hardships associated with water flow.

“We don’t care whose problem it is, we want it fixed,” one resident said, in reference to the ongoing discussions between Peterborough, the DOT, and All Saints’ Church about the extent of each entity’s responsibilities.

Concord Street man Donald Parkhurst described the drainage system for a spring that’s piped from the hillside behind the church, under Route 202 and down through the church’s property along the river.

One resident recalled conversations about addressing a blockage in the drainage system in 2016.

“It never happened,” she said.

Judy Stockwell said she’s been living at 45 Concord St. since 1960, but her basement began filling with water in 2016. Now, she said, she has to run a sump pump around the clock and knows that her basement could flood if the pump stops working for more than four hours.

Cass said that the DOT plans to fix the section of pipe under Route 202 this summer, which they believe has broken and is contributing to the groundwater problems in the area. He said they’re working with the church to address issues with the segments of pipe above and below Route 202, and are scheduled to share their full plan with stakeholders in mid-March. He said the road’s natural flatness, groundwater flow, and water flow in the street from sump pumps all exacerbate the problem and that fixing the pipe under the road might not be the end of the problems.

The burden of responsibility for road maintenance came up several times. Cass said the DOT is in an ongoing discussion with Peterborough Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett to firm up the understanding of what parts of the road lie under the state’s and town’s respective responsibilities.

Bartlett addressed one resident’s concern for improved crosswalks on Concord Street, noting that three crosswalks in the stretch of road near the library were part of the Main Street Bridge and Route 202 reconstruction plan.


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