By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — In an unusual twist to local road woes, the residents of Potter Hill Road have asked the town to maintain their road as a "country road."
In effect, this means letting the pavement degrade to gravel, which would save the the town $250,000 next year, and reduce the speeding along the perceived shortcut to Gilford Village.
"We have a speeding problem," said Gary Kiedaisch, who spoke for the people who live along the road, many of them who were at Wednesday's meeting.
Statistics provided by Kiedaisch and obtained from the police who used a JAMAR radar unit from Aug. 4 to 22 indicate that 35 percent of the total of 1,757 cars that passed the unit were traveling 11 mph or more over the posted limit of 25 mph.
Thirty-nine percent of them were traveling at these rates while headed toward Gilford Village and 32 percent of them were traveling away from Gilford Village.
Recordings in July 2014 were slightly higher and showed that 37 percent headed into the village were speeding while 41 percent going away from the village were speeding.
Notably, said Kiedaisch, 13 percent of the traffic in July 2014 and 11 percent of the traffic in August 2016 were traveling at 41 mph or greater, or about 60 percent higher than the speed limit.
Residents believe that reconstructing the road will only make people more inclined to use it and will add to the speeding problem that already exists.
The five-year local road maintenance plan calls for the reconstruction of Potter Hill Road and includes a "T" intersection at the eastern side. All agree that eliminating what looks like a ramp access to Potter Hill from Cherry Valley Road will reduce some of the problem.
Kiedaisch also said that the speeders on Potter Hill are local people.
"We can tell you who they are," he said, indicating that traffic increases in around school time in the mornings and afternoons in the winter and when the Community Center opens and closes in the summer time.
Kiedaisch said permanent police patrols with officers who give tickets instead of warnings would send a strong message to people and would ultimately deter speeding along Potter Hill Road.
Police Chief Tony Bean Burpee said at the meeting he had no statistics at hand but would provided them to selectmen.
"We can and have stepped up directed patrols," he said, adding that his department makes at least 4,000 traffic stops a year.
He said his one fear is that ticketing will take speeders off Potter Hill Road and push them to Cherry Valley Road.
"Directed patrols work while we're there," he said.
Public Works Director Peter Nourse said letting the road degrade to gravel is not a good idea, but supports a "T" intersection with Cherry Valley Road.
He said gravel roads create dust control issues and won't correct some of the drainage issues that exist on Potter Hill Road.
"I don't want to fix the drainage and leave a wreckage of a road," he said.
Selectmen said they would meet at 6 p.m. on Sept. 14, which is an hour before their scheduled meeting, to look at the road and decide what to do.
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