Wilton checks unsafe corners

WILTON – Two intersections on Dale Street are to be changed from the current “Y” configuration to a modified “T” in the interest of safety, one at Pead Hill Road and the other at Route 31.

Dale Street, cut into the side of a hill, is narrow, steep and bounded on the uphill side by a stone retaining wall.

The intersection of Dale Street and Pead Hill Road was brought up by Police Chief Brent Hautanen a year ago and was discussed again on Monday, Sept. 8, at a selectmen’s work session. An engineering design was created last year and the plan put on hold so it could be included in this year’s budget.

“There is limited sight distance from Pead Hill for a left turn onto Dale Street,” Hautanen said.

The state Department of Transportation recommends all intersections be 90 degrees, a square
corner, he said, and the town ordinances say at least 60 degrees. One of the angles at Pead Hill is a 28 degree turn. “When you’re making that left turn you’re looking back over your shoulder through the vehicle,” not easy with the cruiser or a truck.

The intersection cannot be made into a true “T” because of the narrowness and steepness of Dale Street. Instead, traffic exiting Pead Hill or entering from the north, will be at a two-lane “T,” while a single one-way lane will allow right hand turns onto Pead Hill from Dale Street.

“Commercial vehicles couldn’t make a right turn onto Pead Hill,” Hautanen said. It’s too narrow and widening Dale Street is not option.

The triangular island between the two arms of the present “Y” contains a fire hydrant and a utility pole.

Elliott said it would be made smaller, but not removed in the interest of keeping costs down.

Resident Ken Stickney asked, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just slow people down?”

Hautanen agreed he receives many speeding complaints from Dale Street. “But it’s hard to find a place for an officer to park and watch.”

Selectman Chairman Bill Condra said, “I feel it’s a reasonable investment. It’s been in the planning for some time.”

Hautanen said. “I think it’s a safety issue and there’ll be more traffic if they build the subdivision.”

Elliott said the reconstruction plan had been created by Dawn Tuomala of Monadnock Survey and would cost “under $6,000.”

The intersection of Dale Street and N.H. Route 31 (Forest Street) has the same problems and will be changed in a similar fashion, according to Public Works Director Steve Elliott. “DOT says it has to be improved.”

Condra said the Route 31 intersection upgrade was mandated several years ago when the Planning Board approved the Perham Woods subdivision on Upper Dale Street. Traffic is projected to increase significantly when that subdivision is built.

Another subdivision has been approved for Cram Hill Road in Lyndeborough which would also affect Dale Street traffic. That section of Route 31 is scheduled to be resurfaced later this year and the intersection work should be done at the same time.

The intersection is complicated by the Gregg Street intersection, also at the bottom of Dale Street.

Again, there will be a “T” at bottom of Dale Street for a 90 degree access to Route 31, and a one-way right-hand access lane northbound onto Dale Street.

But not everyone agreed. In addition to Stickney, a half dozen long time residents said there was no need for the changes. It isn’t the awkward intersections, they said, they’ve been there for a hundred years. It’s the people who drive too fast.