City councilors say they want immediate attention given to a stretch of Route 125 — the segment that runs between the Cedardale Health and Fitness Club and a new Dunkin' coffee shop — where drivers and pedestrians are at risk of being hurt.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien brought up the issue at last week's council meeting, saying she is deeply concerned about the spot in Bradford. Her colleagues were quick to side with her, explaining that they too anticipate serious crashes on the state road unless changes are made.
The Dunkin' shop recently moved from Academy Plaza to the former location of a Saturn car dealership. At the new location, Route 125 is four lanes wide. Heading northbound, drivers coming from the Ward Hill Connector crest a hill and may find a car waiting to turn into the coffee shop.
Likewise, customers leaving Dunkin' and wanting to travel north on Route 125 must cross two lanes of southbound traffic and merge into the left northbound lane with a short line of sight for oncoming traffic.
"I've literally lost my breath a few times," Daly O'Brien said. "It's a very dangerous left turn after the connector and there is no lane to pull into to make a left into the Dunkin' Donuts. And there is no way to exit Dunkin' Donuts and cross over onto Route 125 north. It's an accident waiting to happen."
Councilor William Macek shared a story about some young people nearly being hit by speeding cars at the spot, where there are no crosswalks.
"Driving in toward Haverhill going north on 125, I saw that there was a group of young adults from Cedardale that were looking to cross the street," he said. "I stopped because somebody could have hit them. I'm looking in my rear view mirror just waiting for a car to not see that I stopped. It needs to be improved and we have to do whatever we can to try to expedite that."
During Daly O'Brien's three to four weekly trips through the area, she has seen "many near misses," she said.
"I don't want us to be reactionary," she said, "but instead, proactive."
Her idea is to extend a traffic island so that no one can turn in front of Dunkin', instead forcing cars to a nearby traffic light.
Councilors weighed the most effective way to have the option evaluated. They decided to write letters to the state Department of Transportation as well as local legislators, with the hope that they'll push for a change on the city's behalf.
Haverhill has a Traffic and Safety Committee that the council would like to see involved as well, along with City Engineer John Pettis.
"I don't want to wait," Daly O'Brien reiterated. "It's only getting worse."
Haverhill police records show two crashes at the location since the start of 2019.
The issue is under the state's jurisdiction because Route 125 is a state road.