DOT plans project at dangerous Loudon intersection
In August, a motorcyclist died after he collided with a car at a dangerous intersection on Route 106 in Loudon.
The crash was the second fatal one in less than a decade near the Route 106 junction with Staniels and Josiah Bartlett roads.
Last night, representatives from the state Department of Transportation shared their plans to improve safety on this dangerous stretch of road. A capacity crowd of Loudon residents attended the 45-minute presentation, led by Keith Cota, who works in the DOT’s highway design bureau.
“There certainly has been a high accident history at the intersection over the course of the years,” Cota said. Between 2002 and 2011, there were 19 crashes at the site. In addition to the fatal accidents, seven crashes resulted in serious injury, and 11 caused property damage to cars but no injuries. “Certainly, that brought forward concern for the intersection,” Cota said.
Many of the crashes involved more than one car, and several multiple-car crashes had angle impacts attributed to vehicles turning in front of others. “As we looked at the crash history here, it was pretty apparent that a lot of those accidents are attributed to heavy traffic volumes and people trying to make maneuvers in shorter gaps,” Cota said.
A $750,000 proposal to help improve safety at the intersection includes widening Route 106 near the junction from three lanes to five and installing traffic lights. Early plans include five lanes, with two through lanes on either side and a left turn pocket each way for turning access to both town roads.
About 15,500 vehicles pass through the intersection on Route 106 every day, with peak hours during the morning and afternoon commutes. The high volume warrants traffic signals, Cota said.
Ninety percent of the cost will be funded through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program. The DOT will begin final design with hopes to advertise the project in the fall. Work is slated for completion in July 2015.
Residents spoke overwhelmingly in favor of the project, but many said they wanted to see similar work at the nearby intersection of Route 106 and Chichester Road.
“Just step back and take a look back at the big picture,” resident Lee Laughlin said. She suggested the DOT look at the entire stretch of Route 106 between routes 393 and 129.
“I’m 110 percent behind the signalization,” said police Chief Robert Fiske.
In response to a question from Fiske, Cota said engineers would review the road’s 55 mph speed limit. Traffic engineers would review traffic in the area before making a recommendation. “Typically, we would look at 40 to 45 mph,” Cota said.
Selectman Dustin Bowles said the town’s calls for reduced speed limits on Route 106 have fallen on deaf ears. “I’ve asked twice before and never got a response back as to why we can’t do the one thing that might help, and lower that speed limit and strictly enforce it,” he said.
Cota said he would ask engineers to meet with selectmen and residents to talk about speed limits.
“I kind of agree that maybe we ought to get the speed limit down prior to the construction. Maybe that would help,” Bowles said.
(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)