New signs coming to confusing exit ramp on I-89 in Bow

  • Tyler Shaw was killed last Monday by Exit 1 in Bow when his truck was hit by another vehicle that failed to stop at the end of the Interstate 89 off-ramp. A cross and remembrances adorn near the crash scene on Saturday, May 5, 2018 on Logging Hill Road with exit 1 of I-89 in the backround. GEOFF FORESTER

Monitor staff
Published: 11/11/2020 5:12:30 PM

A confusing Interstate 89 off-ramp in Bow that was the scene of a fatal accident in 2018 will get more signs, in hopes that fewer people aiming for the interstate will end up on Logging Hill Road instead.

“People are mistakenly getting off that ramp, thinking they’re getting on 93 South, then realize that’s not where they want to be and are turning around,” said Bill Cass, chief engineer for the Department of Transportation.

The ramp in question is Exit 1 on the southbound lane of I-89, and intersects with Logging Hill Road not far from Bow town hall.

The problem is that it leaves I-89 just a few hundred yards before the southbound ramp onto I-93. That short gap leaves little time for drivers, many of whom are going much faster than the speed limit of 45, to realize which ramp is which.

People in the area have long complained about people who mistakenly take the Exit 1 ramp doing a U-turn at the bottom, endangering local traffic.

In 2018 a driver under the influence ran the stop sign at the bottom of the ramp and hit a truck driven by Tyler Shaw, 20, killing him. Joseph Leonard Jr., 37, of Derry, who has a history of drunken driving arrests, was sentenced to at least 6 years in prison for the crash.

This week the Bow Board of Selectmen gave their approval to two ideas from the Department of Transportation for improving the situation.

The most immediate will be putting a no-U-turn sign at the bottom of the southbound ramp, near its intersection with Logging Hill Road.

Cass said this idea has been supported locally but that the Department of Transportation “did have some concerns about the effectiveness of that,” yet agreed to put up the sign because “it can’t hurt.”

A bigger response will be to install what is known as a diagrammatic sign on I-89, north of the two ramps. These signs draw a picture of the upcoming roadway rather than just listing the upcoming exits – as an example, Cass pointed to a similar sign on I-93 in Manchester, north of the I-293 split.

Normally such a sign would be placed over the highway, attached to what officials call a sign bridge, but the structure that currently holds signs is too old to support a large diagrammatic sign, Cass said. Instead, it will be ground-mounted next to I-89, at some time this winter depending on the weather and other factors.

Both Exit 1 and the I-89/I-93 interchange are slated to undergo major reworking as part of a long-proposed widening of I-93 through Concord. But details are still being worked out and financing for the quarter-billion-dollar project is not settled and work would not start until 2024 at the earliest.

If the new signs don’t improve the situation, Cass said, another option would be to completely shut down the southbound ramp to Logging Hill Road, forcing local traffic to either continue southbound on I-89 to Route 3A, or do a double loop on the I-93 cloverleaf and then head back north on I-89, taking Exit 1 from the opposite direction.

“That would be an extreme action to take,” Cass said of shutting the ramp. “We just wanted to put it on the table; if the concern persists, that might be something to consider.”

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)


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