Bike Lanes, Guardrails Infuriate Residents, Business Owners in Methuen and Dracut


Tom Duggan

Methuen and Dracut residents and business owners are up in arms over a state “road improvement” proposal that would add bike lanes, guardrails, and sidewalks to the Route 110 stretch of Lowell Street, which goes from Methuen into Dracut and Lowell.

State Representative Ryan Hamilton (D-Methuen) says that the proposal is being paid for by federal funds, but the plans are being engineered by the state, and because the funding comes from the federal government the Biden administration is requiring an entire bicycle lane with guardrails along the eastern side of Lowell Street.

“As I am sure you are aware by now, there was a 4-car accident on Rt. 110 in Dracut last week. One person was pronounced dead at the scene and eight others were injured. This unfortunately, is one example of our safety concerns,” said Markos D. Zygouris of TKO Realty Management, LLC.
“Aside from all the logistical issues that this design presents, the most crucial flaw has to be their lack of attention to public safety. They took the existing roadway and added a 10’ shared use lane with a 4’ buffer that will include guardrail and flex posts.”

“By adding this additional lane, the travel lanes will now be reduced to 11’ wide each and the breakdown lane will be eliminated. It went from a wide roadway with a breakdown lane to narrower travel lanes without a breakdown lane. This will bring vehicles closer to each other when driving in opposite directions. It will create more accidents, as well as additional road rage. They believe that they will slow down the road with this new design, but they have not taken into account road rage as well as how distracted drivers already are today. In my opinion, they are being very careless and negligent by ignoring the public safety factor. In less than 5 weeks, there have already been 2 fatalities within this stretch of road.”

“The guardrail is the greatest issue in this project. If the guardrail is removed from the design, then many other issues will be resolved. They have also admitted that this is the only project of its kind in the state. This tells me that they can’t even be sure it’s going to work as designed. We should not be their guinea pigs or test subjects!”

“This will kill business along that stretch,” said Methuen Businessman David Consoli, owner of Pleasant Valley Landscaping (contractors) about the road changes.

“I don’t live on that stretch but I live right near it, and that road is already a nightmare. If they narrow those two lanes of traffic to put in bike lanes that – let’s face it, nobody is going to use – you are going to have more accidents and more deaths because you are making both lanes of traffic closer to each other, it’s just common sense.”

“There’s nothing we can really do at the local level to stop the project,” Representative Hamilton told The Valley Patriot.

“This has been years in the making and the state is not going to just kill a road improvement project because local people are opposing it. What we can do at the local level, however, is fight to stop the guardrails from going in. I think that’s what most of the business owners and residents along that stretch are opposing. It’s going to restrict access to their properties.”

Dracut business owner Dennis Fearon said the widening of the sidewalks and installation of a bike path is a waste of federal dollars.

“I’ve owned the commercial property located at 500 Merrimack Ave, Dracut since 1972. For the past 52 years I’ve worked 6 days a week, frequently being outside. I can guarantee you that the bike lane will be a waste of these federal grant funds, no one walks or bikes on this roadway. Biking on 110 is equivalent to biking on Rt. 93. Is the state going to be putting a shared use lane on every highway? By installing the bike path and widening the sidewalks, they are “hoping” drivers will slow down; have they ever traveled or watched traffic patterns on this road?”

“While I understand the federal grant requires the shared use/bike lane be installed, the planned use of guardrails and flex-poles will cause multiple problems. I believe this will cause more accidents, as drivers will not have proper shoulder or breakdown lanes to pull over if necessary. If a car is pulled over by law enforcement or broken down, cars will not be able to safely go around them. Which has the potential to cause serious collisions.”

“How is the mailman going to deliver the mail? The two example photos the DOT provided did not have any housing, have they ever done this type of bike lane with residential properties? This will also cause the property owners, both commercial and residential to lose usage of the minimal amount of frontage they have.”

Pathik Patel owner of the Methuen Package Store at 462 Lowell St. in Methuen said his biggest concern is accessibility to his business and other businesses (Dunkin Donuts & Roast Beef) in that plaza once the guardrail is installed.

“We are located right near the traffic light and there is a lot of traffic during evening (commuting) hours. There are also two lanes where we are located so most likely one lane will be taken away for the bike path. This will make accessibility to our business harder and unsafe.”

“Another issue is we have beer delivery trucks (18 wheelers) that park right on the main road (2nd lane) because they can’t access our parking lot. I’m not sure where they will park once the 2nd lane goes away. Most likely they will have to block the road and create dangerous conditions for ongoing traffic.”

Several of the business owners on that stretch of road contacted The Valley Patriot saying that the installation of guardrails will make it nearly impossible for their customers to access their property safely to patronize their establishments.

Businesses and residents objecting to the project on that road include TKO Realty Management, LLC – Markos Zygouris, Jay Gee’s Ice Cream, Dracut’s Car Connection, Heavenly Donut, Fearon’s Auto (NAPA), Mario’s Auto Repair and Sales, Casa Blanca Mexican Restaurant, Haus of Athletes, Jean Theberge (Resident), Maureen Graham (Resident), Yallem Cake Shop, Vedant Construction, Inc., and Peabody Supply.

State Representative Ryan Hamilton held an open meeting with abutters of the project at the Irish Cottage last month fielding an overwhelming amount of opposition to the project.

Markos D. Zygouris of TKO Realty Management, LLC listed more than 14 concerns about the project set to begin by the state Department of Transportation. The Valley Patriot will post them on-line.
State Rep. Hamilton said that the entire state delegation representing Methuen is working on helping residents and businesses along that road. ◊