MANCHESTER — Glenn Lewis said he recently was turning onto Old Winthrop Road from busy U.S. Route 202 with his blinker flashing when a woman on Bowdoin Street, the access road to a new medical services building, pulled right out in front of him.

The two drivers were able, barely, to avoid hitting each other, he said.

Lewis worries that other motorists may not be so lucky. The Old Winthrop Road resident fears there could be a tragic, even fatal, accident at the same spot.

He said he knows of at least three other close calls like his. While he is not aware of any accidents at the spot so far, he’s concerned an accident is inevitable.

“It’s a problem that is going to happen; it’s a real traffic hazard,” said Lewis. “I don’t want to see somebody get killed over something foolish.”

The intersection of that end of Old Winthrop Road with U.S. Route 202 and Bowdoin Street forms a triangle, with Bowdoin Street motorists crossing the end of Old Winthrop Road to get onto U.S. Route 202.

The main problem, according to Lewis and Town Manager Patrick Gilbert, occurs when a motorist is waiting to leave Bowdoin Street and pull out onto U.S. 202, and another motorist is on U.S. 202, pulling onto Old Winthrop Road.

Some motorists leaving Bowdoin Street onto U.S. 202 assume when they see a vehicle signaling that it will turn off U.S. 202, that the vehicle is turning onto Bowdoin Street. So they pull out onto U.S. 202.

And if the motorist coming off U.S. 202 is instead going onto Old Winthrop Road, not Bowdoin Street, it could result in a collision.

“They see you signaling and think you’re turning into Bowdoin Street,” Gilbert said. “So if they pull out and you’re going straight (onto Old Winthrop Road) there’s a potential for conflict there.”

The town’s roads committee has discussed the issue and plans to again Jan. 31. Gilbert said the town will work with residents, the developer of the new medical building and the state Department of Transportation to come up with a solution.

“We want to do something to resolve this,” Gilbert said. “It’s going to involve everybody working together.”

Gilbert noted the access road site was approved by the state Department of Transportation and construction of the medical building was approved by the Planning Board.

Douglas Jorgensen, owner of Manchester Osteopathic Healthcare and a partner in the development, said if there is a safety issue, it is with U.S. Route 202 through Manchester in general. The access road serves his business, as well as a family practice, lab and other medical services located in the same building.

He said visibility from Bowdoin Street is good. And while he acknowledged it can, during busy times of the day, take some waiting for drivers to pull out of the street onto U.S. Route 202, the same could be said for other side roads where they intersect with U.S. Route 202. Also, he said, people drive too fast on U.S. Route 202, and some tailgate, putting others at risk.

Some 25,000 cars pass through the area daily, according to transportation data. “It’s a larger issue with Route 202 itself being dangerous, rather than just here,” Jorgensen said. “I think (the road through Manchester) does need to be addressed.”

He said the transportation department for many years has recommended a reconstruction of U.S. Route 202 through Manchester, but the project has never gotten funding.

Construction of the new medical center last year involved the creation, by the developer, of Bowdoin Street. For now it’s a private drive, but Gilbert anticipates a proposal to accept the street as a town road will go to voters at the annual town meeting in June.

Old Winthrop Road is less than a half-mile-long and has intersections with U.S. Route 202 on both ends.

Gilbert said town officials floated the idea of closing the end of the road by Bowdoin Street but said Old Winthrop Road residents “were pretty clear that’s not their first choice.”

Lewis said he is opposed to closing the end of Old Winthrop Road by Bowdoin Street.

“This road has been here a long time — it was here first,” Lewis said. “We didn’t create the problem. It wasn’t a problem until the medical office went in there.”

Gilbert said the town’s roads committee will work with a traffic engineer, residents and state transportation officials to come up with a recommendation to selectmen on how to improve the situation.

Lewis said a potential solution he favors, at least for the short term, would be to require all traffic coming out of the medical building’s road to turn onto Old Winthrop Road and travel down to its other, lower intersection with U.S. 202, instead of driving directly onto U.S. Route 202,

Longer-term plans for the property owned by Jorgensen and his partners include additional buildings on the site. Residents at the annual town meeting approved a tax break to help the project in an effort to spur economic development in town.

Jorgensen, who has had a practice in Manchester for 12 years, said he and town officials hope the proposed business park could help reduce the tax burden on residents by expanding the tax base to include more businesses.

Lewis said most of his neighbors seem resigned to the fact that U.S. Route 202 is becoming more commercial. He said while he is not against progress, people who want to continue living in their current homes should be able to do so safely.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]


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