hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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February 20, 2014

Drivers avoid square due to traffic changes

Due to traffic changes, some Bradford merchants lose customers to side roads

When new traffic lights began operating on Route 125 in Bradford last year, angry drivers complained about traffic jams.

Merchants in Central Square said their businesses suffered from changing traffic patterns caused by the lights, plus removal of parking spaces from the area.

State highway officials were getting an earful due to the changes they made to South Main Street, the stretch of Route 125 that runs through Bradford.

Now, several months later, the complaining has died down.

But observers said travelers’ habits have changed due to the traffic lights.

They said drivers are finding their way around places like Central Square, avoiding the traffic signals there. Motorists are using side streets more, said merchants and other neighbors of the area.

City Councilor William Macek said many drivers avoid the square’s traffic lights by traveling through adjacent residential streets.

“Neighbors still complain about the increased traffic through their streets as vehicles come down South Pine Street and in those neighborhoods back there,” he said.

Some merchants whose businesses are on side streets said they are happy drivers avoid the square.

Pat Lane, owner of the Arthur Sharp True Value Hardware store at 21 Middlesex St., two blocks from the square, said some drivers who use side streets end up travelling near his store.

“I like it,’’ he said of the possibility of more customers coming his way. “The light at the end of the street allows people easier access in and out of Middlesex Street, so they come down this way more often now.”

But merchants with businesses on South Main Street said they lose sales when drivers use side streets or are frustrated by traffic jams on the main drag.

“With the new construction, it’s worse for me,” Pat Saragas owner of Heav’nly Donuts at 55 S. Main St., said of the $15 million face-lift to South Main Street.

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