Route 110 bypass a hotspot of horror stories

Many of our readers undoubtedly have their own horror stories about driving on the Route 101 bypass between the Bedford-Amherst line and the traffic light near Market Basket in Milford.

Those who don’t have undoubtedly read stories about accidents, some minor, some horrific. Over the years police have asked for safety features like traffic lights or wider roads or jersey barriers or, at least, a marked decrease in the speed limit in the area where, with the exception of the final stretch in Milford, the “limit” is 50 mph but where people regularly go far faster.

Nothing has been done, not even after the April 5 death of Sierra Croteau, a 21-year-old graduate of Milford High School, killed in a crash involving off-duty Londonderry police officer Tyler Berry, who was charged with a felony count of aggravated driving while intoxicated. At least one witness said that Berry’s GMC pickup had crossed a double-yellow line, swerved back into its proper lane to let an eastbound car pass, then crossed again into the oncoming lane where the crash occurred.

There have been many other crashes and certainly a number of close calls, one of which happened last week to someone we know.

Shortly before 6 a.m., this person was driving east on 101 about a mile from the Milford traffic light with cars behind him and cars coming toward him in the westbound lane. Crossing in front of the westbound lead car was a turkey and that car was slowing to let it pass. The person who related the story to us also started to slow, knowing that the turkey, being a turkey, would take its time crossing the road.

So, at 6 a.m. we have eastbound and westbound cars halted in an area where the speed limit is 50 mph — probably more than a dozen cars in all — to wait for a turkey to cross the road which it finally did. It seemed to be in no great hurry and it was lucky that the drivers of the two lead cars felt it was safe to stop and let it pass.

But was it? It turned out fine, but suppose that behind one of those cars had been a large truck, a truck going 50 mph and which, being large, would take a relatively long time to stop. Could it have stopped in time to avoid smashing into one of those lead cars?

What happened with that turkey simply emphasizes the problems with Route 101 and its 50 mph speed limit. Everyone involved that day, including the rather unconcerned turkey, would have been safer had the speed limit been lower.

We are not suggesting 30 mph but as drivers approach the strip mall area of Bedford, the speed limit drops from 50 to 40. Why there and not the rest of the road to the west of Bedford?

Certainly one could argue that the area of Bedford is built up and the area between its town line and Milford is not, but there are many roads leading into Route 101, many cars coming out and trying to make left turns. Would they not be safer if the speed limit were 40 rather than 50?

And, too, some drivers would argue that it’s better to run over a turkey rather than taking a chance getting smacked from the rear by a driver who has no idea what’s going on.

But it would take a lot for us to just wish the turkey well in its next life and keep driving. Our first instinct is not to make sure there is no huge truck behind us but to see the turkey and hit the brakes.

Perhaps the state Department of Transportation could take that into consideration and decide that as long as New Hampshire drivers are going to protect wildlife, the least the DOT can do is take every step possible to protect them.

Lower the speed limit!