BARTLETT — If the 2.5-mile stretch of road on Route 16 in Intervale, known as the Intervale Flats, seems narrower to you since it was repaved in the spring, you’re right — and selectmen are concerned that it may become a safety hazard.
“The travel lanes are narrower,” Gene Chandler, chair of the Bartlett Board of Selectmen, said by phone on June 26. “Supposedly, they were put in the way they were designed, according to the (state) Department of Transportation.”
Chandler said he had spoken with NHDOT officials and voiced the concerns of the town board.
“I was told they do 11-foot-wide travel lanes now in order to have plenty of room on the shoulder,” he said. “I told them, I think we can probably lay claim to having the widest shoulder in the state.”
Chandler added: "The travel lanes are at least a foot narrower, and I think it’s probably more than that.”
In mid-May, New Hampshire Department of Transportation crews repaved the stretch of highway running about 750 feet west of NH 16 A east to the Bartlett/Conway Town Line, a distance of 2.5 miles.
On May 27, before and lane and shoulder striping had taken place, cyclist Dick Devellian, 83, of Jackson was struck and killed by a motorist.
With the new striping of the road, selectmen continue to see vehicles straddling the white-lined shoulder delineation.
“Everyone seems to be doing it — it’s because the road is too narrow,” Chandler said. Speaking from his car, he added: “The two cars in front of me are either on or over the white line.”
Chandler, former speaker of the N.H. House of Representatives, hopes the situation can be rectified.
“I talked to the DOT,” he said. “I still have some contacts there, and I was told they will look into it. They will check the parameters and design. It’s an inherent danger the way it is right now.
“I would argue that this is probably one of the most heavily traveled lanes in the state," he noted.
Chandler also noted that one of the white-line sprayers “must have run amok,” as a stretch of the line breaks from its normal path and zig-zags.
“If you try to follow the white line, you’re all over the place,” he said, laughing. “I’m hopeful that will get corrected, too.”
Selectmen have heard from concerned motorists about the troublesome stretch of highway.
“It was just so evident there was a problem the first time I drove it,” Chandler said. “I immediately said, ‘Something is not right here,’ and other people have said the same.
"There’s no way a tractor-trailer can stay within the lanes the way they currently are. It’s dangerous the way it is now, and that’s the bottom line. I certainly hope the problem is quickly corrected.”