Meredith selectmen all for fast-tracking safety improvements to 1/4-mile stretch of Rte. 104

MEREDITH — Selectmen indicated strong support for proposed safety improvements on Rte. 104 at the Meredith Center Road and Chase Road intersections at a workshop session Monday afternoon.
Bill Oldenburg of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation's Design Bureau and Jon Hebert, DOT preliminary design engineer, presented a road safety audit report which the DOT initiated nearly three years ago in response to local concerns over the one-quarter mile stretch of road.
Those concerns included the lack of a passing option for vehicles which are behind those making a left turn onto Chase Road when headed east on Rte. 104 and the obscuring of left turning vision for those trying to enter Rte. 104 and proceed west from Meredith Center Road.
The report says that eastbound traffic turning right onto Meredith Center Road obscures the view of motorists trying to enter Rte. 104 and proceed in a westerly direction and that the right turn lane is frequently used as a passing lane in an area where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour and which saw nine crashes from 2002 until 2009.
Hebert said the proposed project includes construction of a left turn bypass shoulder at Chase Road and an eastbound offset right turn lane, 12 feet wide with a two foot shoulder and a painted island, into Meredith Center Road which would improve the sight distance for left turning traffic looking west from Meredith Center Road.
The roadway work would start 400 feet west of Chase Road on Rte. 104 and continue east to about 100 feet east of the Meredith Center Road.
One option, which would cost about $425,000, could be accomplished by the spring of 2015 and would be done entirely with state and federal highway funds. A second option, also done completely without any local funding, which would, in addition to other improvements in the first option, add a painted island west of the Chase Road intersection to better delineate the left turn bypass shoulder, would cost about $550,000 and could take up to three or more years to put in place as the entire project might not fall within the existing right of way and would necessitate eminent domain proceedings.
Selectman Lou Kahn said that he was all in favor of the proposed changes and Selectman Herb Vadney said that he thought the town should express its support for the most easily achieved option so that safety concerns could be addressed as soon as possible.
Town Manager Phil Warren said that the board of selectmen will take up the proposal in the near future and that he will draft a letter of support for the proposal for the board's consideration.