BELMONT – After considerable discussion, selectmen voted 2-to-1 to allow the N.H. Department of Transportation to improve the intersection of South Road and Jamestown Road.
The $1.6-million, projected to be completed with money awarded to the state through a federal highway safety program, will improve visibility and provide some additional space through the intersection.
Selectmen Chair Ruth Mooney is against the project. Voting against it, she said that improving the intersection will increase commercial traffic on both roads, meaning the town will ultimately have to spend more on paving and upkeep.
She said that since one of the neighbors at the intersection voluntarily cut back some of the brush that was inhibiting sight lines, she said the number of accidents has gone to one from 20 in 2010.
The project has been in the development and engineering phase since 2012 when the DOT approached the town with the federal offering.
Selectman Jon Pike felt the $1.6 million price tag was too high, but said he agreed with Selectman Ron Cormier that if the state was willing to use federal safety money to improve it, then the town should get it done.
Pike's biggest gripe is that since the state decided to improve the intersection, the road hasn't been paved and the state only put a shim coat near Route 140 when it was last paved.
All agreed that the road should continue to be marked "No Through Trucking" to stop heavy trucks from using South Road as a cut-through from Route 140 to Route 106. All agreed that the police need to patrol the area more often.
Cormier also said that in his experience, when a community turns down state transportation aid, it never gets another opportunity to get more. He also noted that since the town initially asked DOT to look at the intersection, if the town were to reject the project it would make them appear "silly."
He also said that he agrees $1.6-million seems a bit high, but noted that if utility poles have to be relocated, and private property must be purchased, then he can understand where the expenses lie.
Town Planner Candace Daigle also spoke in favor of the project, saying the intersection was part of the Route 140 corridor the site of most of Belmont's commercial and industrial development.
She said for the first time in years, site plan applications for that area are up and all of the many studies of the area indicate that future commercial and industrial growth will be in those areas.
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