It’s an issue that refuses to go away.
Despite months of discussion and several City Council meetings to resolve the issue — and a final vote by the council — the debate over traffic on South Prospect Street continues.
The narrow residential street off busy Route 125 in Bradford was a one-way street for several years before the council changed it to a two-way road in January.
There have been three crashes at the intersection of South Prospect, South Elm and South Pleasant streets since South Prospect became a two-way road. That has fueled the arguments of critics who insist South Prospect should have remained one way.
But at least one city councilor said the new design is safer for motorists. Councilor Robert Scatamacchia said there have been fewer crashes since the street was changed to two way back in January compared to the past.
“It is absolutely safer than before,” said Scatamacchia, citing data he received from the police department.
“If you take into consideration the intersections on South Main Street such as Lamoille Avenue and Haseltine and Leroy streets, there were more accidents when the street was one way,” he said, referring to drivers being forced into other nearby intersections when they could not turn onto South Prospect Street from Route 125.
The direction of the road was changed last January to give drivers an alternate route to the Bradford train station and downtown. The City Council voted 7-2 to change it to a two-way street after much debate last year. South Prospect Street had previously been a two-way street for many years up until 2002, when the Comeau Bridge was closed during construction.
“There were never any problems until the bridge closed,” Scatamacchia said. “Now that it’s open again, I think there will be fewer accidents.”
Former Councilor Dave Hall voted against the proposal when he was on the council last year, and disagreed with Scatamacchia’s view.
“I get upset because decisions made on the council were made for political gain and not for public safety,” said Hall, a retired Haverhill police officer. “It’s not about convenience, but it’s for the safety of motorists. Some of those councilors have no clue as to what public safety is. Some of them are wannabe cops. They all want to be enforcement officers and they have no expertise in the matter.”
Changes to the intersection of South Prospect, South Elm and South Pleasant streets have been proposed by Mayor James Fiorentini and Public Works Director Michael Stankovich. Hall said that would improve what has become a very dangerous intersection.
“It’s a blind corner,” Hall said. “People coming from the Comeau Bridge can’t see until the last very minute. It’s a real bad scene. If people just went at a reasonable speed, it would be fine. But people are going in excess of 40 miles per hour around that bend.’’
Councilor Colin LePage also voted to change South Prospect Street to a two-way street and said that he is always open to changing his vote if new statistics show two-way traffic on the street is more dangerous.
“I would like to compare the way they were now and before the change,” LePage said. “If the statistics prove otherwise, then I’m always open to changing my opinion.”
Scatamacchia said he has been told time and time again that the intersection is safe for drivers.
“I talked to a state engineer from the Massachusetts Highway Department,” he said. “She told me that the state would not spend all that money to build that intersection if it was unsafe. They have done traffic studies that
have proven it is.”