“It’s obviously a mess,” said Bob Almeida, watching a long line of cars pass. But he noted the island stretching down the road and added, “This street has always been a hazard to pedestrians. ... When I was a kid I saw another kid hit by a car in front the Store 24.” The island and the emphasis on shrinking the street, he acknowledged, was needed to bring more safety to a stretch of roadway that over the years has seen several pedestrian accidents, some fatal.
Deanne Healey of the Chamber of Commerce, which is located in the downtown, expressed surprise that drivers have adjusted so quickly to the change. “I think people were expecting at least a couple of weeks of confusion.” Instead, traffic is moving smoothly, she said. Not that it couldn’t be better. “It’s a good thing it’s happening now,” she said of the changeover, “because a lot of the kinks can be worked out before the kids go back to school.”
More signs and better timing for the traffic lights will help, she suggested.
Bricks, fancy light poles and plantings have also contributed to giving the downtown a more elegant cast. “It looks good,” said Healey, adding that she’s heard positive reviews even from people who ordinarily criticize everything.