EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 9, 2013

Traffic the source of many complaints in Plaistow

Route 125 complaints include traffic lights

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said there are three complaints he hears about the most in town.

“It’s snow, taxes and traffic,” he said. “And not necessarily in that order.”

When it comes to traffic, it’s a problem that doesn’t have a defined solution.

“It’s always going to be a problem in a busy society,” Fitzgerald said. “But we are always looking at strategies to calm down traffic.”

Town officials are focused on two roads which run parallel with each other, the Route 125 business corridor and Route 121A (Main Street), which passes through the center of town.

“The problem is that in order to avoid the traffic lights on Route 125, people are using Main Street instead,” police Chief Stephen Savage said. “We don’t want heavy traffic, especially truckers, to use Main Street. It’s a much more pedestrian-traveled road.”

The town cannot ban trucks from Main Street because it is a state owned road, but officials are taking efforts to divert traffic away from it.

“We are trying to make Main Street a little more challenging for trucks,” Fitzgerald said.

He said the town has plans to create more crosswalks on Main Street, especially around Pollard School and Town Hall.

“We want to put a more pedestrian focus on the road,” he said. “We want to create an environment where people are comfortable getting out of their cars.”

Savage said educating the truckers is the most efficient way to get them off Main Street.

“I’ve spoke with many of our local truckers and they have understood to use Route 125,” he said. “We have a good relationship with them. But the truckers who come from out of our area still use Main Street as a shortcut to get around (Route) 125.”

A common complaint about traveling up and down Route 125 is being constantly stalled at the numerous traffic lights. Selectman John Sherman had suggested at a candidate forum earlier this year, synchronizing the traffic lights, something Fitzgerald said had been done in the past.

But even that isn’t the perfect solution.

“The lights can be triggered coming out of certain plazas so that will affect synchronization,” Fitzgerald said. “If cars go at different speeds, that will also affect the synchronization.”

Others agreed with Fitzgerald.

“I don’t think that would make a big difference in traffic flow,” Selectman Daniel Poliquin said. “I think our bigger problems are looking at the configuration of certain intersections.”

Poliquin mentioned the intersection of Kingston Road and Route 125, and looking at a portion of South Main Street, which the town recently acquired from the state earlier this year.

For business owners, more traffic is good news.

“The area is crowded and that’s what we want,” said Ron Boivin, owner of Ron’s Kitchen Design on Route 125. “When people are stopped at the lights, they can look around and see what’s around here.”

Jim Palmer, owner of Live Free and Diner on Route 125, said the traffic isn’t a problem for him.

“I just don’t think it’s much different than any other place,” Palmer said. “I think they can look at other issues besides syncing the lights. The turning lanes can be looked at.”

Savage said police have been out in force as they try to cut back on truckers on Main Street.

“We have stopped trucks that are overweight,” he said. “Every time we stop them, we ask them to use Route 125.”

Police have also set up speed traps and use electronic signs that show a vehicle’s speed in an effort to slow down drivers using Main Street as a cut-through.

“The speed limit is 30,” Savage said. “Currently, the average speed going through the area is 35, which isn’t bad. It’s served as a warning that we don’t want people speeding down this road.”