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North End one-way crash comes minutes after meeting about safety

By MARK HAYWARD
New Hampshire Union Leader

April 11. 2018 9:45PM
A crash at Maple and Blodget streets in Manchester on Wednesday happened an hour after city officials held a community meeting to discuss accidents and speeding on one-way streets in the area. (COURTESY)



MANCHESTER — Yet another accident on a North End one-way street came on Wednesday, less than an hour after city officials met with residents to discuss traffic safety on one-way streets.

Police said Manchester rescue workers had to cut the driver out of his pickup truck, after his vehicle was struck while traveling north on Maple Street. The accident took place at Blodget Street, an intersection controlled by a traffic light. The pickup tipped onto a sidewalk, taking out a pedestrian crossing signal.

“We talk about: Is the road safe? Now we have to worry is the sidewalk safe,” said Holly Nagle, who lives on Maple Street, one house north of the intersection.

An hour earlier, Nagle had attended a neighborhood meeting at the Currier Museum of Art, where Alderman Will Stewart said his analysis shows that a person is nine times more likely to die of an accident on a one-way street in Manchester than a two-way street.

“These streets — more accurately referred to as neighborhood highways — must be made safer,” said the freshman Ward 2 alderman, who said the streets were the biggest issue he heard while campaigning.

Stewart said he will propose next week to have the city Department of Public Works study the streets in detail with an eye toward making them safer.

Maple and Beech streets are one-way streets that run north and south through the oldest, most densely populated portion of the city.

On Wednesday morning, Stewart hosted a meeting at the Currier of about 25 people — public works officials, police and neighborhood residents. Another meeting is scheduled for next Wednesday at the Currier at 6 p.m.

On Wednesday, residents spoke about accidents and speeders, cars striking their porches or houses, and the need for the city to do something.

“I do 30 (miles per hour), and I feel I’m at the Daytona 500. Everyone is in a race car and I’m on a bicycle,” said Bill Sturgis.

Possible solutions include:

• Converting the streets to two-way streets;

• Raised crosswalks;

• Traffic lights and signs;

• Trimming bushes and vegetations at intersections;

• Reducing the travel lane to one by expanding parking to both sides of Maple and Beech.

Several pointed out that traffic does not move quickly on Lake Avenue and Spruce streets — one-ways that run east-west — because parking is allowed on both sides of those streets.

“You gain a lot of parking space and you slow a lot of cars down,” Sturgis said.

Stewart said he based his fatality-risk calculation from New Hampshire Department of Transportation data from 2006 to 2015. Nine fatalities during the 10-year period involved one-way streets; 22 involved two-way streets.

The fatality per mile works out to 1 per 1.9 miles on one-ways, 1 per 17.5 miles on two-ways.

Stewart said city police have gathered data about speeds at different times of day on Maple and Beech and the two-way Union Street. That information should be ready in about a week, he said.

Meanwhile, the Currier released data it collected using its own radar gun on Beech Street, two blocks south of the Currier. It did not show a significant problem.

Of the 150 speeds measured, 17 were at 40 mph or more. The speed limit on the streets is 30 mph.

mhayward@unionleader.com


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