EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 6, 2013

New traffic signals cause confusion, backups

Central Square merchants fear snarls will drive customers away

HAVERHILL — Drivers ran red lights.

They got confused and went the wrong way down a one-way street.

They got caught in traffic jams which made normally brief trips long and frustrating.

Drivers, police and merchants hope yesterday was the worst of the transition from blinking yellow traffic lights in busy Central Square to working lights.

The state put the lights into full operation yesterday, after they were blinking yellow for a month. The lights are part of the state’s $15 million project to rebuild Route 125 in Bradford, including Central Square.

The square received a major face lift during the project, with the addition of the traffic lights and islands to channel cars in new directions. The new lights replaced old ones which had not been working for years.

Central Square is a complex area, where Route 125 (South Main Street) and several side streets meet. Several businesses are also in the square or in complexes just off the square.

Problems start at rush hour

Yesterday morning’s commute was a challenge for drivers passing through the busy area.

About 8 a.m., the southbound traffic was backed up from White’s Corner at the eastern entrance to downtown across the Basiliere Bridge, past Central Square and all the way to Bradford Common. About noon, it was just the opposite, with northbound traffic bogging down in the Bradford Common area and moving at a snail’s pace along South Main Street to Central Square, where the new traffic lights controlled the pace of travel.

Business owners in the square said they haven’t seen such heavy traffic since last year, when the state was rebuilding the square. They say that if the traffic snarls continue, their customers may decide to go elsewhere to shop.

“We had half the usual sales for breakfast and for lunch, and our waitresses are not making much in tips,” said Iva Dionne, a cook at the Village Square Restaurant, 109 S. Main St. “The last month or so things were picking up, then last week it started slowing down and today it’s really bad.”

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