HAVERHILL — City Councilors joined a dozen residents at last night’s meeting in blasting the state for ruining the neighborhood behind Bradford’s Central Square, hurting businesses there and creating dangerous conditions for drivers, pedestrians and school children.
At issue was the state’s decision to turn a 500-foot stretch of South Central Street into a one-way road, leading away from the square.
The change, which the council voted three times to oppose before it was implemented in May, has forced people who live on narrow residential streets behind the square to find alternate ways to get to Route 125, flooding the neighborhood with traffic. The new traffic includes dozens of school buses from Coppola Bus company on South Central Street. The buses can no longer use South Central to reach Route 125.
“The school buses have no choice now but to go up our narrow street, where they get stuck idling in traffic,” said Dan Fedock of 58 S. Chestnut St. “It’s a shame the people who live here didn’t get a say in the changes.”
Margie Murphy, 34 S. Chestnut St., said the neighbors had an agreement for many years with the bus company that the buses would stay off the residential roads, but she conceded the buses have no alternative now. Murphy also said the city installed a sign in 1991 prohibiting trucks from the road.
“But the trucks are back,” Murphy said. “An 18-wheeler went by my house at 9:30 last night. Everyone is upset about what’s going on.”
Restricting traffic to one-way on South Central Street was part of the state’s reconstruction of Route 125, which included redesigning and rebuilding Central Square for improved traffic flow.
State officials said keeping South Central Street two ways, once the new traffic lights there was activated, would have caused Route 125 to back up all the way to Salem Street near Bradford Common during peak traffic times in the afternoon.