NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 10, 2012

Officials decry plan to turn off lights

SEABROOK — Officials in Seabrook are concerned about a state cost-cutting plan to turn off street lights along beach areas.

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation's statewide list of street lights to be turned off includes dozens of lights in Seabrook, as well as Hampton, mostly concentrated along the towns' busy beach areas along Route 1A, known locally as Ocean Boulevard and the Ocean Boulevard Bridge.

Colin Manning, a spokesman for Gov. John Lynch, said the DOT is acting on the Legislature's budget, which Lynch allowed to become law without his signature. Manning said directives were issued to make budget cuts and the DOT had to find ways to work within that budget.

Not contacted by the state transportation agency directly, but after being notified by Unitil that NHDOT was planning to turn off many of the lights it historically funded on state-owned roadways, Seabrook Town Manager Barry Brenner sent a letter to DOT Commissioner Christopher Clement. Brenner let Clement know town officials are very concerned about the public safety impact that shutting the lights off could cause.

Ocean Boulevard in Seabrook is a four-lane, secondary highway at the beach where speeds can reach more than 50 mph. It's heavily traveled in the summer, not only by those frequenting Seabrook beaches, but by those going north to Hampton and other New Hampshire beaches, as well as to Salisbury Beach.

"We would request your explanation as to whether this is indeed the intent of the NHDOT and the rationale for such a decision," Brenner wrote in his letter to Clement. "Needless to say, the town feels very strongly that these lights should not be removed."

According to NHDOT spokesman Bill Boynton, Seabrook or any other community on the list has the option to keep the lights shining; they just have to take over the cost of maintaining the lights themselves.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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