Highway Safety to Look at Crosswalk Near Cumberland Farms

The Derry Highway Safety Committee will investigate ways to improve safety at the East Broadway crosswalk between Santander Bank and the Cumberland Farms plaza.

The committee met Thursday, Aug. 20, and learned that several community members have complained about the crossing. Superintendent of Operations Alan Cote noted that drivers coming east have two left-turn lanes, one onto Manning Street and one onto Crystal Avenue. “Traffic in the left lane,” he said, “could create an issue.”

Cote said, “It is incumbent on pedestrians and incumbent on motorists to exercise caution.”

Installing a crosswalk signal would be more trouble than benefit, Cote said. “The amount of back-up would be detrimental and create more issues,” he said, including pressure on motorists to push their way through. “The mentality would be, ‘I got stopped at this light, I’ve got to make it through the next one.’”

Committee chair Scott Savard suggested, “How about a crosswalk sign like the one at the library?” The town has a freestanding, moveable “pedestrian crossing” sign that is usually set up outside the Derry Public Library.

“We could,” Cote responded, “but the one at the library gets ‘wiped out’ on a regular basis. You can put up signs until you’re blue in the face, but it’s common sense and common courtesy that’s lacking.”

Fire Chief Michael Gagnon said that in his observations, the problem comes when parents with children in programs at the Tokyo Joe karate studio try to cross the street. “If it’s just adults, it’s no problem,” he said. “But I’ve seen issues with children.”

Gagnon added, “What if we set up some kind of warning device?”

“The only way that would be any help would be if it’s in the driver’s sight line,” Cote responded. “And in the winter, it would be destroyed, even if it was bolted down.”

Many of the karate studio patrons park in the Manning Street public parking lot or other public lots on that side of East Broadway, while the Wall Street lot on the Tokyo Joe side of the street is near-empty. “If the patrons parked in the Wall Street lot, that would eliminate the problem,” he said.

Savard pointed out that it isn’t just the young ninjas, but the young musicians crossing the street to go to Daren’s Music for lessons. He suggested, “We should hit all the businesses on that side, and encourage their patrons to use the Wall Street lot.”

If they do go with a warning device, Cote said, he prefers a bolted-down model. Even that wouldn’t last in the winter, he said, but he can live with that, pointing out, “In winter people tend to drive more slowly.”

But Cote warned, “It is a matter of education,” and said it would be good to get the downtown business owners involved.

The committee agreed to table the matter until September and discuss it with Police Chief Ed Garone, who was absent.

Cote said he preferred some kind of concrete warning device, noting, “If people run over it, they’ll never run over it again.”

The committee also discussed and tabled a request from a Union Street landlord who complained about people parking on both sides of the street. Administrative Assistant Sharon Jensen said the man called her and said that people are parking on both sides, it’s a narrow street, and his tenants are having problems getting in and out.

“He asked if there could be a ‘no parking’ sign on one side of Union,” she told the committee.

“We can’t get through with our apparatus,” Gagnon said. “I think it’s a reasonable request.”

The group discussed what side would be better for prohibiting parking. Cote said, “My gut reaction is the inner side of the ‘horseshoe.’ We can allow parking on the outer side, because there’s more open space.”

The committee agreed to look at the street and discuss it in September.