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Conway selectmen weigh speed measures

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A sign cautioning motorists to slow down stands next to one announcing lake hosts on duty on Mill Street by Conway Lake. The town may put radar speed signs there. (JAMIE GEMMITI PHOTO)

CONWAY — Selectmen are in favor of putting money in next year’s proposed budget for a new radar speed sign near Conway Lake.

The issue of speeders came up at the July 23 meeting when the Sun asked selectmen if there was enough oversight on Conway Lake. Selectman Mary Carey Seavey said she was concerned about speeders in the area and the other selectmen said there was interest in getting a radar speed sign placed on Mill Street. Conway Lake’s boat launch is on Mill Street.

Selectmen talked about speeders again Aug. 6.

“I have a large family that’s down there every morning for swimming lessons,” said Seavey. “Something has to be done.”

Seavey said family members have told her that traffic in the area is worse than ever this year.

Town Manager Tom Holmes said staff have researched options to deal with the speeders. First, he asked about having the Pine Tree School zone’s flashing yellow light left on during the swim season. But he added that would be up to the schools.

He said he put in a call about that to SAU 9 Superintendent Kevin Richard but it wasn’t returned by the time of the meeting.

The school zone signs “don’t quite reach the lake” anyway, said Holmes.

Holmes also said they also looked into “seasonal speed bumps” that the town Department of Public Works “has in stock” but which might create an issue with noise.

Holmes also looked at solar flashing radar speed signs to be placed on existing speed limit signs. The signs, which notify a driver how fast he or she is going, cost $2,500. Two would be needed, one for each direction.

“I’d rather see the signs than a speed bump,” said chairman David Weathers, adding that putting money in the budget for next year would give voters a chance to weigh in on whether they are needed.

Selectman John Colbath said speed bumps are “wicked noisy.”

But Selectman Steve Porter said speed bumps “work” while speed signs probably don’t. “One thing they pay attention to is if they hit a speed bump at 30-40 mph, it wakes them up,” he said. “I can deal with the noise as opposed to a kid getting hit by a car.”

Resident Albert Eaton, who has lived across from the town beach/landing for about 25 years, said there are “close calls” with speeders nearly hitting boaters trying to put their boat in the water or people trying to cross the road with their kayaks.

He said he told police they could put a radar speed sign on his property.

“I have seen the flashing speed light work,” said Eaton, adding he was opposed to speed bumps.

Holmes said he asked police about a mobile radar speed sign on a trailer that they used to have but was told it hasn’t been functional in a decade or so.

Selectman Carl Thibodeau and Weathers suggested someone could look at getting the trailer sign repaired.

Selectmen also were asked about a traffic stanchion on Route 16 by Muddy Moose Restaurant & Pub. Holmes said the Eastern Inn wanted the stanchion because their customers cross the street to go to dinner but the traffic doesn’t stop at the crosswalk.

“They don’t last for us because people run them over, they break and, of course, they have to be pulled up in the winter anyway,” said Holmes, reiterating what he heard from Public Works Director Paul DegliAngeli. “We don’t find them to be effective.”

DegliAngeli, who was at the selectmen’s meeting, confirmed the stanchions do tend to get hit. He said in the past, businesses that volunteered to put the stanchions out and take them in “lost interest” in doing that.

North Conway Fire Chief Pat Preece said stanchions make life hard for fire and police when responders have to weave around traffic.

“They get caught up under the fire trucks,” said Preece. “In that particular section, it would not work for us to be in the middle of the road.”

No one from the inn was at the meeting. Weathers said the topic could be revisited if the person proposing the stanchion came in.

Ildiko Segesvary Oyler, a new resident of Intervale Cross Road, complained about speeders on the road as well as the condition of road itself, which she said is crumbling at the edges, making it hard for her family members to push her granddaughter in a stroller and also makes it dangerous for bikers.

Intervale Cross Road connects Kearsarge Road to Dinsmore Road.

“What a mistake to buy that old house,” said Oyler. “After putting our life savings into buying and fixing it up, we found Intervale Cross Road to be in disrepair, narrow, noisy with continual heavy speeding traffic.” She had a number of ideas to address the problems, such as better speed signage, repaving and and widening the road.

Seavey said maybe Oyler should have looked at the property more closely before buying it. She said if “cut-across roads” like Intervale Cross Road were widened, it would just make the traffic go faster.

“We don’t want great, big, wide roads,” said Seavey. “That’s why we choose to be here. We’re not the city.”

Porter said that road needs to be improved but widening the road would be unpopular.

Weathers said he would refer Oyler’s issues to DegliAngeli. He said speeding is a problem all over town.

“I’m passing this on to Paul; he’s going to take another look and a field visit and report back to us what his findings are,” said Weathers.

DegliAngeli said he agreed with much of what Oyler said and budget decisions were made in the past not to widen the road and make bike lanes.

“There’s no argument that it’s not wide enough for bike lanes,” said DegliAngeli. But he added: “The question is, is there enough traffic to warrant bike lanes?”

 

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