Fatal crash renews push to upgrade NH bridge
Oct. 14, 2013
HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) — A crash that killed two cyclists in Hampton, N.H., has sparked renewed interest in overhauling the Neil Underwood Bridge.
Nineteen-year-old Darriean Hess of Seabrook is charged with two counts of negligent homicide and two counts of assault in connection with the crash last month that killed two cyclists from Massachusetts.
The Portsmouth Herald reports (http://bit.ly/1bRej2v) that participants in a regional planning meeting discussed the crash and their concerns about the bridge, which spans the Hampton River. State Sen. Nancy Stiles of Hampton said the crash showed the drawbridge isn't wide enough and suggested a study be done to determine how to not only improve pedestrian and cyclist safety and curb traffic backups.
State Rep. Fred Rice, R-Hampton, said bottlenecks are unavoidable as the bridge goes from two lanes in either direction to one lane. It gets worse, he said, when boat traffic is heavy.
"The bridge goes up and the bridge goes down and the bridge goes up and the bridge goes down — whenever a boat seems to want to do it," Rice said.
Exeter Town Planner Sylvia von Aulock was one of the riders in the Sept. 21Granite State Wheelmen century ride. Police say an unlicensed Hess was speeding when she crossed over the center line and hit a group of cyclists. Two women, Pamela Wells, 60, of South Hamilton, Mass., and 52-year-old Elise Bouchard, of Danvers, Mass., died. Two other cyclists were injured.
Von Aulock said the tragedy should focus attention on building roads to accommodate cars, bikes and pedestrians.
Information from: Portsmouth Herald, http://www.seacoastonline.com