EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 22, 2008

Neighbors call Bradford street speedway; Blame train commuters, bridgegoers

HAVERHILL - Neighbors say it's more like a highway than an inner-city street.

Laurel Avenue runs through a tightly packed residential area in the city's Bradford section. It is also a road that connects busy South Main Street with the Bradford train station and the new Comeau Bridge.

That connection is causing a problem, neighbors and city leaders say - people are speeding along the road to the train station and the bridge, which since September has provided a new way to cross the Merrimack River.

"They fly up and down the street," said Virginia Tavitian of 70 Laurel Ave. "It is dangerous."

Tavitian said she is often tailgated by drivers in a hurry, and she is afraid she's going to get hit.

The road has gotten a big boost in traffic since the new Comeau Bridge opened in September, and with it an uptick in speeders, City Councilor William Macek said. Some of the speeders are commuters trying to catch their train to Boston in time, he said. The new bridge replaced the old Comeau Bridge, which was demolished five years ago.

Macek wants the city to put up more 30 mph speed limit signs and other safety signs to slow people down. He may also ask police for help, he said.

"We should review the speed limit and review what we have for signs and make it as safe as possible," he said.

Laurel Avenue runs downhill from South Main Street toward the train station and bridge. That is often how drivers are traveling when they pick up speed.

The neighborhood has been adjusting to a boost in traffic since the bridge opened.

The city is considering making one-way South Prospect Street a two-way roadway so it can take on more bridge traffic, and a new stop sign has been installed at South Pleasant Street to prevent collisions with cars coming off the bridge.

Lilia Credit of 67 Laurel Ave. said the speeding problems happen near the bridge where people are "whipping around the corner."

"I think it's unsafe," Credit said. "Obviously there is a lot more traffic (since the new bridge opened). I expected that. Unfortunately, I don't think people are being careful."

Macek will discuss the traffic safety problems at tonight's City Council meeting in City Hall.

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