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Castleberry Fairs

Emergency meeting prompts DOT to beef up safety measures at Route 28/171 intersection

October 10, 2018
OSSIPEE — Violent, high-speed "t-bone" crashes are killing people at the Route 28/171 intersection here. That fact was not in question at an emergency meeting called by Ossipee town officials Oct. 4. The question was, what can be done today, right now, to stop those accidents from happening?

The board of selectmen gathered a panel of local, state, county, fire and police officials. About 30 people filled the seats in the audience for the 11 a.m. meeting, including a person board Chairman Richard Morgan called "quite possibly the most important person in the room" — Kristin Correa-Taylor of Wolfeboro, whose 17-year-old daughter, Ramsie, was killed at the intersection on Sept. 26 while driving to school.

Taylor told the panel she does not want her daughter's death to be just another statistic, but wants change to come from it.

Within four days of the emergency meeting, action was taken. Despite it being the Columbus Day holiday weekend, road lines were repainted, rumble strips were installed at the Route 171 approaches, and new signage was added. State and local police also amped up their speed patrols. Two trailer-mounted speed feedback digital signs now sit at the north and south Route 28 approaches to the intersection. This reporter watched for a few minutes Tuesday as vehicles well exceeded, by 10-20 miles an hour, the posted 40 mile-per-hour limit. The drivers did, however, hit their brakes when passing the sign and realizing they were speeding.

Ossipee selectmen have long advocated for the installation of a four-way traffic light at the intersection. Public hearings were held in the past two years, but there was no public outcry opposing the planned 2020 installation of a roundabout. Until now. Morgan said the traffic lights were nixed by state officials after traffic count reports did not meet the required counts for light installation. Morgan said the selectmen settled on agreeing to a roundabout because it is a solid plan that will reduce the vehicle speed.

Several people at the Oct. 4 meeting opposed the roundabout for a variety of reasons from just not liking them to the difficulty trucks and snowplows will have navigating.

Rumble strips at all four approaches were suggested by many, as well as eliminating the passing lane on Route 28 northbound, installing traffic lights in the interim until a final reconstruction of the intersection can be done, and closing off the Route 171 access from Courthouse Square. The last five fatalities have occurred when drivers pulled out onto Route 28 from that direction.

Citizens who have input regarding the intersection continue to be encouraged to submit their comments to selectmen in writing or at the weekly selectmen's meetings Mondays, 4:15 p.m. at Ossipee Town Hall.

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