The death of a Pinkerton Academy student after a New Year’s Eve auto accident has prompted a resident of the Gulf Road area to ask the town to put center stripes along the road.
Kyle Ross, a Pinkerton junior, died in Boston from injuries sustained when his car went off the road. A passenger, Johanna Morse, 16, was severely injured.
Robert Laplante of Gulf Road appeared before the Highway Safety Committee at its Thursday, Jan. 16 meeting. Laplante said, “I was concerned about the road even before the accident.” He had spoken with Highway Superintendent Alan Cote, who invited him to the meeting.
Cote told Laplante and the committee that the Public Works Department did a study of so-called “collector roads” a few years ago. A collector road is one that leads into or “collects” for major or “arterial” roads such as Route 102 and Route 28. With center lines and “foglines” along the sides, it is easier to see where you are going, especially at night, Cote said.
The downside, he said, is that people who want a “country look” to their roads don’t like the stripes. “Years ago this committee recommended striping,” he said. Because of the reaction of residents, “the Council at that time chose not to,” he said.
“I remember the push-back from residents,” Police Chief Ed Garone said.
Laplante said in light of the New Year’s tragedy, “I don’t think you’ll find a whole lot of people against striping.”
Cote reviewed the process with Laplante. “We determine if we want to recommend an action, and the Council determines if they want to accept it and how they are going to fund it,” he said. And putting stripes on more roads would definitely affect the budget, he said.
Over the past 10 years, the Highway Department has chosen to put both fog and center lines when it stripes, Cote said. Before that, “We had a couple of roads that did not have fog lines but did have center lines, and a couple that had center lines but no fog lines.”
Garone said, “From a highway safety standpoint, this is the thing to do. We shouldn’t worry about the political impact.”
Cote said he wasn’t worried about the political impact or the budgetary impact. “We’ll leave that to the Council,” he said.
While Laplante maintained that he was only interested in Gulf Road, Cote and other members said if they were going to make a recommendation, they would make it for all the collector roads. “We need to look at the town as a whole,” Garone said.
While some of the dangers on an unstriped road could be from people unfamiliar with the area, even locals or “repetitive traffic” could make a mistake, he added. “There’s a lot of distraction in driving – this would give them a little more security,” he said.
Fire Chief George Klauber warned that there needed to be a better definition of “collector road.” Some residents, he said, would say “I think my road is a collector road” when it isn’t.
Committee member Randy Chase cautioned that striping wouldn’t necessarily guarantee safe driving. “A lot of people come in to us looking for things, a cure-all, so that they will feel good,” Chase said. “But people are going to go at the speed they are going to go.” With people who drive like that, he said, “Lines won’t help.”
Garone saw another benefit to the fog lines – they would increase safety for pedestrians. “If you’re looking at the fog line, you’re also looking for pedestrians,” he said.
“If we’re going to the Council, I don’t want to do this piecemeal,” Cote said, adding that if approved and funded, the striping would take place in June or July.
The committee voted unanimously to recommend to the Town Council that the town stripe the collector roads.
The town currently stripes 144,000 linear feet of single solid white lines (fog lines) and 88,000 linear feet of double solid yellow lines (center lines), Cote wrote in an e-mail after the meeting.
The Committee recommended the following roads for striping: Fordway Extension, Frost Road, Windham Depot Road, Kilrea Road, Goodhue Road, Gulf Road, North Shore Road to Island Pond, Drew Road, Warner Hill Road, Floyd Road, Lane Road, Cemetery Road, Lawrence Road, Adams Pond Road, Old Chester Road (from Adams Pond Road to Old Auburn Road), Old Auburn Road (from Old Chester Road to Route 102), English Range Road, and Scobie Pond Road.
Cote wrote, “The proposed roadways would add approximately 302,810 linear feet of fog line at $0.033 per linear foot for a total of $9,992.73, and 151,405 linear feet of center line at a cost of $0.065 per linear foot for a total of $9,841.25. The total increase in cost for fog line and center line striping would be $19,833.98. Last year’s cost to stripe center lines and fog lines totaled $10,472.00. If approved, the cost for the upcoming year for all the striping would be $30,305.98.”