After a winter break and the Fairpoint Communications strike, work has resumed on a traffic signal at the intersection of Route 28, Kilrea Road and Windham Depot Road.
Bill Boynton, spokesperson for the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT), said Monday that the $1,135,000 project will add a left-turn lane onto Kilrea, replace a guardrail, improve drainage and add a signalized traffic light. A blinking light was installed in the 1990s.
Boynton said the contractor is American Excavating of Derry.
Construction began July 28 and Boynton said work will be done from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with minor traffic delays expected. He said the work is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 31.
While the project was held up for a number of years due to funding, it received a metaphorical green light in 2014 and work was begun.
Work halted for the winter on Dec. 5, 2014, according to Ellison Welch, the DOT’s on-site contract administrator. Welch said the work was scheduled to resume pending utility companies removing their lines, and that the Fairpoint strike put the project on hold.
“They did not have anyone working that could do this,” Welch said. When the strike resumed, “We had to take additional time to get the Fairpoint lines off so we could work.”
One pole, near the intersection with Kilrea, had “everyone on it,” Welch said. “It was a nightmare to get it all off.”
Welch said, “I don’t want to slam the union workers. Everyone has the right to strike. But nobody else can do their job.”
Derry residents have long been concerned with the safety of the intersection. In 2011 resident Melissa Polk was the primary sponsor of a petition urging that the DOT put in a traffic signal. She and 73 other local residents expressed concern over statistics, which at the time included the following:
• Derry Police, 122 accidents at or near the intersection reported from 2002 to August of 2009;
• DOT traffic counts, traffic rose 1 percent from 2006 to 2007;
• DOT traffic counts, from 2007 to 2008, 2.7 percent rise; and
• DOT traffic counts, 2008 to August 2009, 2.2 percent rise.
Polk wrote that in 1995, the intersection was “one of more than 100 that were identified by the state Department of Transportation as being potentially hazardous.”
An informational meeting followed by public hearings were held in 2011. By 2012 the work still had not started, and the then-Council directed former Town Administrator John Anderson to write a letter to the DOT expressing concern.