Town plans to fix flaws at junction during paving job

MERRIMACK – A junction in Merrimack that some town officials call “dangerous” will soon be fixed as part of a planned paving project.

The Town Council on Thursday approved narrowing the intersection at Wilson Hill and McQuestion roads, which at 190 feet wide is nearly four times the width of a standard intersection.

“It’s a dangerous intersection with people flying through there and queuing up side by side,” said Rick Seymour, public works director, who said he observed the area recently.

The area is so wide, officials said, because a triangle median once occupied the spot but has long since been removed.

Officials plan to trim down the Y-shaped intersection to more of a T shape, which they say will eliminate drivers’ ability to make full-speed turns on and off Wilson Hill Road and stack up at the sign. Officials add that it will save a little money on paving and snow-maintenance costs.

The adjustment will be made this fall during the paving of a portion of Wilson Hill Road, from Harrington to McQuestion. That project scored 37 out of a perfect 100 on the town’s “pavement condition index,” which helps officials schedule paving assignments.

In other business, councilors accepted federal reimbursement money for costs associated with December’s ice storm.

Among other things, the storm damaged trees throughout town, leading to significant roadside debris, said Paul Micali, the town’s finance director.

Then, until springtime, other storms limited the town’s cleanup efforts. As a result, the Federal Emergency Management Agency extended the deadline by which communities could file for cleanup reimbursement money.

Merrimack filed, and on Thursday, learned it will receive $50,750 in reimbursement funds, 75 percent of the total cleanup cost.

The council also passed on an idea to establish an energy commission in town.

Council Chairman Tom Mahon floated the idea because a state law now gives communities the language to establish local groups to look at energy initiatives.

Several councilors said they liked the idea and would support it if members of the public showed interest, but councilors pointed to an energy conservation policy already in place.

In 2007, the town adopted the policy, which was aimed at reducing energy use by 15 percent by the end of the 2008 fiscal year, with cutbacks in motor and heating fuels and electricity.

Town Manager Keith Hickey said he will soon report back to the council with the latest results.