The intersection of South Central and South Main Street was recently rebuilt to accommodate the new traffic flow. Traffic islands were installed and eventually a traffic light will be placed there. The work is part of the Route 125 improvement project and redesign of the square.
State officials have said keeping South Central two ways, once the new traffic light is activated, would cause Route 125 to back up all the way to Salem Street near Bradford Common during peak traffic times in the late afternoon. Without a traffic light, the state said the intersection would rate an “F.”
City Council has voted three times to oppose the change and business owners and people who live near the square have rallied against the plan at several public meetings.
When South Central Street becomes one-way, residents and about 30 Coppola company school buses will be prevented from using the street to directly access Central Square and Route 125, which leads to the northern and southern parts of the city on either side of the Merrimack River. The bus company is on South Central Street.
To reach Route 125 once South Central is made one-way, the Coppola buses will have to go from South Warren Street to South Kimball Street to Ferry Road to Inland Street or South Chestnut Street to Doane Street. People who live in the area will also have to find new ways to Route 125, causing increased traffic on a series of narrow roads lined with homes and Sacred Hearts School.
Last week, city councilors William Macek and Colin LePage attended a meeting with Mayor James Fiorentini and state officials in charge of the project.
“It was very frustrating to see that they are going forward, despite the city’s wishes,” Macek said of the state. “They said we can try to change it back to two ways after the project is finished and the city takes the road back, but that’s a long process. Before they would even consider letting us change it back, they’re going to to want us to monitor the area for a period of time.”