Many of us bought our homes a while ago, probably in part because of their rural location. In many cases trees kept the house from full display to the road, and the road itself was often a winding country byway. But Southern New Hampshire towns have grown in population since then, and those rural byways have in many instances become alternative routes to get to the highway, or back-road speedways for drivers seeking to avoid daily traffic jams.
The population of our towns is headed only one way, and that’s up. It’s not just single-family homes that we’re seeing under construction, but multi-story buildings housing apartments, 55plus and condos. And with the new residents come multiple vehicles, adding up to more and more traffic. Intersections that were once easily traversed using a stop sign now need lights, and have turn into nightmares at certain times of day and require drivers to exercise patience and self-control, two qualities that are often in short supply these days.
With the renewed emphasis on economic development and high-density work force housing 55plus, residential neighborhoods traffic, safety and noise situations can and are only get worse. Towns have Traffic Safety Committees to address residents’ and businesses’ concerns, and as we’ve reported, they are seeing plenty of action. Residents regularly ask for stop signs or reduced speed limits or “no parking” regulations, and while they often don’t get what they are seeking the towns, for example, can’t regulate state roads, many of which traverse our communities they point out traffic concerns serious enough to get people off their couches and seeking help from public officials.
As our towns grow, some at a much fast rate then others, we can rest assured that safety and traffic concerns will grow as well. What are the towns will to do to remedy these issues?
Now, maybe a tad to late, but late is better than never. Before more construction is in place, this is the time to start a public discussion about our roads, water, air, noise, and light. Can we as towns accommodate the growth that multi-family housing in former farmland will bring, for example? Are stop signs sufficient to regulate traffic from residential neighborhoods into larger and higher speed roads? How reliable are traffic studies? Are we taking into account the questions and costs of residential and business growth in neighboring areas? Are we now the suburbs many of us chose to leave behind? We shouldn’t have to start amassing fatalities to make the point.
This Policing of Planning, Zoning, town and school are the responsible of we the people of the towns to make sure the greater good is being carried out in our behalf. I say be respectful but question about everything and get the documents to back up what is being said.