EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 20, 2010

Crashes spur safety changes

HAVERHILL — It is one of the city's most dangerous intersections — where drivers from Haverhill, Methuen and southern New Hampshire converge.

Cars involved in crashes there have collided with each other, hit walls and fences in front of homes, and knocked out a blinking stop light.

The city is taking steps to improve safety at the intersection of Route 97, South Crystal and Crystal streets in Ayers Village.

The village, in Haverhill's northwest corner, is one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. Route 97 runs through the heart of the village and links inner-city Haverhill and Interstate 495 with the New Hampshire line. The intersection is just north of the village's volunteer fire station.

As that part of Haverhill and Southern New Hampshire have grown, traffic has increased, turning Route 97 from what was once a lazy back road into a busy street.

Complicating matters is the fact that a recent car crash there knocked out a red blinking light which was not immediately replaced. That led to other collisions before temporary stop signs were erected.

The city is taking steps to ensure drivers entering the intersection from South Crystal and Crystal streets are aware of the traffic ahead. Signs marked "dangerous intersection ahead" have been erected on those streets.

The problems at that intersection have caused a safety ripple effect elsewhere in Haverhill.

New policies are in place to make sure drivers are protected in the event a car accident knocks down a stop sign or blinking stop light at any intersection, Mayor James Fiorentini said.

On March 21, a crash at the intersection of South Crystal and Crystal streets knocked out the blinking "red" light that was the only warning to drivers to stop before the roads intersect with Route 97 — a state highway where heavy traffic regularly travels at 50 mph or more.

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