, Derry, New Hampshire

August 15, 2013

Derry officials plan to make town roads priority

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Town councilors are taking getting up to speed on the community’s roads and their conditions.

One neighborhood’s battles with potholes and other less-than-desirable road conditions have prompted councilors to plan a bigger conversation about the state of the town’s roads.

When residents approached Town Councilor Mark Osborne about conditions on Hilda and Mark Avenues, other councilors decided it was time to talk travel.

“It’s a good start to the discussion,” Osborne said.

For those living on or near Mark and Hilda, potholes and the lack of decent sight lines at intersections are cause for concern.

Driving out English Range Road can be treacherous, some say.

Derry has had a bumpy history with roads and how the town handles the public versus private status of some roads.

Add in the usual neighborhood complaints about road conditions and it’s a seemingly endless amount of work for town crews.

Public Works Director Mike Fowler said his hands are often tied due to budget limitations.

“We have $1.4 million in the road maintenance program,” Fowler said.

That means there is often not enough money to pave some roads that really need it. Only the most highly traveled roads — in the worst condition — get the attention.

Major jobs could take most of the budget in one shot. Add in high paving costs and the money doesn’t last long.

“Hilda Avenue is not on next year’s list,” Fowler said. “Crystal Avenue and Birch Street require attention sooner. We keep the high-volume roads in good condition.”

In the meantime, Fowler said Hilda and Mark Avenues will get some patching and divot repairs to improve the traffic flow. Work also will be done at the intersection near English Range Road to improve sight lines.

Councilors hope to keep the road conversation on the front burner as more issues come up from concerned residents hoping for repairs in their neighborhoods.

Councilor Brad Benson said it’s always a good and useful dialogue as there are so many private and public roads in town.

“We need to understand all the issues with roads that have substandard conditions,” Benson said. “It’s also a benefit to our new councilors.”

Benson suggested a road ranking system to list roads and determine what work they need.

“This is a much bigger discussion than Hilda and Mark,” he said.

Fowler said work would be done to get those two streets in better condition and the town would do its best to spend money wisely.

“We have limited funds,” Fowler said. “We are not perfect in this area, it’s something we struggle with.”