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Police to increase traffic patrols on Loudon Road; construction to begin in 2015

  • Loudon Road on Thursday, April 24, 2014.  Concord Police have increased patrols on Loudon Road.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Loudon Road on Thursday, April 24, 2014.  Concord Police have increased patrols on Loudon Road.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)
  • Loudon Road on Thursday, April 24, 2014.  Concord Police have increased patrols on Loudon Road.<br/><br/>(ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)

Inside Arnie’s Place on Loudon Road, manager Molly Lanigan pointed through the window to a nearby utility pole.

It’s crooked, leaning slightly ever since it was hit by a car. And that was just one of the accidents Lanigan, whose father, Tom Arnold, owns the restaurant, has witnessed on the busy street outside.

“When they come up over the sidewalk, it’s a little scarier,” Lanigan said. “But we’ve gotten pretty good at hearing the bang and picking up the phone.”

In an attempt to reduce accidents on Loudon Road, the Concord police are stepping up traffic enforcement on what is one of the most dangerous streets in the city. This shift comes just two months after the city council decided to shrink Loudon Road from four lanes to three, which is also intended to make the road safer.

Construction on Loudon Road won’t start until 2015, but Lt. Timothy O’Malley of the Concord Police Department said the new patrols have already begun.

“Year in and year out, Loudon Road is consistently one of the worst corridors we have for traffic accidents,” O’Malley said.

Concord officers traditionally increase their coverage of Loudon Road in the busy summer months, and a grant from the state’s Highway Safety Agency covers the extra hours they put into those patrols.

This change is separate from that summer program, O’Malley said. During their regular patrols, some officers will spend more time monitoring Loudon Road and watching for the type of driving behavior that often causes accidents.

“This is more focusing on specific intersections, really looking at hazardous driving behavior, unsafe lane changes, illegal U-turns,” O’Malley said.

Some drivers could get off with a warning, O’Malley said, but others could be ticketed for traffic violations.

“We’re looking for unreasonable driving. . . . There’s an array of possible violations,” he said.

The city has reported that about 20,000 cars travel on Loudon Road every day.

“It’s congested and not a great design for a road, and part of that contributes to” the accidents, O’Malley said.

The design of Loudon Road will change, however. In February, the city council unanimously approved a proposal to revamp the four-lane road for $2 million. The new road will have a single lane of traffic in each direction, a center turning lane and 5-foot-wide shoulders on each side for bicyclists.

The city will have to put $160,000 of its own money toward the project, but a grant from the state Department of Transportation will cover $1.44 million of the cost since the changes are supposed to make the road safer. City Engineer Ed Roberge told the council the change could decrease accidents by 25 to 29 percent, based on federal data.

Some Heights residents met the plan with criticism, saying it simply doesn’t make sense to squeeze four lanes of traffic into two and expect the road to be safer.

Police records show most accidents on the road occur at the interchanges with Interstate 93 and Fort Eddy Road, which will be unchanged by the street’s new design. But based on his own experience as a patrol officer, O’Malley said crashes easily can happen anywhere on Loudon Road when a driver is attempting to make a left turn.

“From my own experience, one of the most dangerous aspects of (the road) is the left turn across two lanes of travel,” he said.

Drivers will often rear-end or side-swipe the cars that slow or stop in the left lane of traffic to make that turn, O’Malley said. In other situations, cars in both oncoming lanes of traffic might not see or stop for the turning car.

“And then boom, there’s an accident,” he said.

At the Arnie’s counter, Lanigan said she hopes reconfiguring the lanes will stop drivers from treating Loudon Road “like a freeway.”

Lanigan gets nervous when she crosses the road to pick up her 7-year-old son from the bus, she said, and she won’t let him make the trip by himself.

“I would never let him cross alone,” she said.

But as she eyed the cars speeding past outside the window, she seemed just shy of convinced that a reconfigured Loudon Road would be safer.

“It’s needed,” Lanigan said, with a note of skepticism in her voice. “I hope it will (work).”

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

I like the idea somebody wrote in several weeks ago concerning not having the option of reverting back. Try it out by simply repainting the lines now. Why not????

Yup they are CWMoss. The CPD will be busy writing more tickets and stopping more cars. The businesses on Loudon Road will suffer also. Same with Main Street. Mark my words, the folks who avoid Main Street now to do business, will avoid it even more when construction starts.

I can't believe the city is going through with this lame-brain plan. Like to hear the CPD's opinion on it. They can't be thrilled. Good report, Megster.

Dear Megan Doyle, Skepticism should be a major component of a journalists mind set. To not use that instinct is pure negligence. Last year Concord tore up that whole road to replace the water & sewerlines. Answer this 1 question. Was there money allocated in that W&S repair budget to repave the road OR is Concord just using this plan to get it repaved with other peoples money?. If there was no money in that W&S budget to repave it you know you have to investigate more to ask why. If there was money allocated to repave it then where did that money go?

"a grant from the state’s Highway Safety Agency covers the extra hours they put into those patrols."......Where does our highway money go again??? Next time you run over a pothole on a state road and experience an expensive repair, feel better knowing there are more Concord police sitting in idling cruisers watching intersections on Loudon road.

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