HAVERHILL — Businesses in Bradford’s normally bustling Central Square weathered a summer of detours, traffic jams, gutted sidewalks and dust — all of which drove customers away.
But now that the area is repaved, those merchants said they anticipate the return of customers who avoided the state’s massive reconstruction of Route 125 in and near the square in recent months.
Some work remains to be done along this stretch of Route 125, or South Main Street, which is dotted with businesses. But new sidewalks have been installed, providing shoppers with better access to restaurants, retail shops and other businesses.
“Now that the construction is winding down, it would be nice if people came back,” said Peter Carbone, co-owner of EZ-Way Cleaners at 139 S. Main St. “People have been avoiding Bradford Square and have been finding alternative routes all summer, so they don’t have to run into construction delays.”
Carbone said the delays are over, traffic is flowing smoothly, and life in Central Square is returning to normal. But concerns still linger as to whether the elimination of some on-street parking will cause additional pain to businesses.
“It appears that most of the construction is done, with still some smaller issues to be addressed,” Carbone said.
This week, construction is taking place around the perimeter of Bradford Common and in the Zion Bible College area, as well as a stretch of Salem Street between the common and the entrance to Bradford Elementary School.
State Transportation Department spokesman Michael Verseckes said the project is nearly 80 percent complete and is scheduled to be completed by mid-June of next year. The project was originally expected to cost $14.6 million, however, because of a slowdown in the economy and with more firms bidding on construction jobs, the actual cost has been driven down to $13.1 million, he said.