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DOT moves ahead with planned roundabout at junction of Route 28/171


December 05, 2018
OSSIPEE — New Hampshire Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to construct a roundabout at the Route 28/171 intersection in 2019. After pressure from local and state officials and a vocal citizenry at public hearings, the department moved the 2020 project to 2019.

After the Sept. 26 death of Wolfeboro teen Ramsie Taylor in a crash at the intersection, Ossipee's selectmen held an emergency meeting that brought out a full audience and a panel of state and local officials. Then, over the Columbus Day weekend and the weeks since, several improvements were put into place including transverse rumble strips at the approaches on Route 171, flashing stoplights and a speed trailer.

Last month, New Hampshire DOT officials announced they re-examined the idea of a four-way stoplight but again held their position that a roundabout is the best solution. Selectman Richard Morgan, who had been strongly in favor of the four-way stop, along with his fellow selectmen, changed course and agreed with NH DOT that the best solution, and the only true way to eliminate the high-speed, high-impact crashes that have killed five people in recent years, is to slow traffic with a roundabout.

The money, about $1 million, for the project has already been set aside for the project. There are steps including acquiring some necessary environmental permits, completing the design and putting the project out to bid, and making a deal with impacted landowners to buy a portion of their land.

This week a potential hurdle was brought to light. Carroll County Commissioner and Ossipee resident David Babson attended the Dec. 3 selectmen's meeting asking for the Town's financial help. He said the County was informed its water lines that cross Route 28 will have to be moved for the project, and the cost of that will have to be paid through the County budget.

In an email to this reporter, NH DOT Highway Safety Engineer Michael Dugas forwarded a copy of the Nov. 28 letter sent to the County and said, "According to State law, utility facilities (either aerial or underground) are permitted to be within the State highway right-of-way but are there 'by sufferance.' This means that if they need to be relocated to make way for highway improvements, the relocation is at the utility owner's expense. The DOT project will reimburse the County for the cost of trenching and backfill and for the salvage value of the impacted water lines per State law for underground municipal facilities."

Carroll County operates a water system that provides water to the courthouse, county administration building, jail, nursing home and for other County purposes on the complex. The water system then extends across Route 28 and serves about 50 customers in the Ossipee Village, including the Ossipee Corner Fire Department.

This unanticipated cost is not included in the county commissioner's proposed 2019 budget that was approved Nov. 28 during their weekly meeting. A public hearing on the proposed $32 million budget is being held Dec. 10 at 9 a.m. at the county administration building.

The Nov. 28 letter notes that the roundabout project is scheduled to go out to bid on April 16, 2019 and requests that the County submit its plans for relocating the lines by January 18, 2019 "so our design process can continue on schedule."

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Martin Lord Osman
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