EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 29, 2008

Stoplight proposed at busy Route 97 and Lake Street; Walkers, drivers say intersection is dangerous

HAVERHILL - Broadway Variety, owned by Daniel Bird, is the only business at the busy Route 97 and Lake Street intersection, and serves as a school bus stop and drop-off.

Bird said he has seen three serious crashes there in the past five years, and several minor fender-benders. He also has had to step into the road and stop traffic because drivers will not stop for children in the crosswalk.

"It's a dangerous intersection," Bird said. "Even though there's a flashing light there, they ignore it."

City Councilor James Donahue is pushing for a traffic light at the intersection, which has been made busy by Haverhill's growth and commuters from nearby New Hampshire, he said.

Donahue said heavy morning traffic from New Hampshire on Route 97 makes it difficult for Lake Street traffic to turn onto Route 97. Some Lake Street vehicles cut across the intersection, making it an even more dangerous situation, he said.

It's a matter of time before someone gets killed, said Helen Cook of 331 Lake St.

Cook, who was involved in a car crash there a few years ago, is among many neighbors who want the city to install a traffic light at the busy intersection, which has only a blinking light - yellow for drivers on Route 97 and red for those on Lake Street.

"It's long overdue," Cook said.

Lake Street cuts across the city's northwest corner - south from North Broadway past Crystal Lake, across Route 97, and ends at West Lowell Avenue.

Pedestrians also are hampered by the traffic.

There is a crosswalk at the intersection, but it is faded, and traffic going 40 mph or more will rarely stop to allow people to cross, Donahue said.

"The speed limit is 40 mph there, so by the time they might see a student at the crosswalk they can't stop fast enough," Donahue said.

Richard Ricker lives at 265 Lake St. and sometimes takes walks in the neighborhood. Crossing Route 97 is tough because cars do not stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, he said.

"I go walking, and you have to wait and rush," Ricker said. "Like I say, there is no courtesy anymore."

Donahue said students also use the intersection as they traverse the city's northern neighborhoods. He said he will bring the issue before the council tonight.

A traffic light was added late last year to Route 97 at Computer Drive, where the new Target and Lowe's Home Improvement were built, about a mile from the Lake Street intersection.

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