Cranberry Highway construction begins
By Chloe Shelford
The long-anticipated reconstruction of Cranberry Highway in East Wareham is underway.
In an effort to improve safety on theusy highway, the project will revamp the highway from near the Cranberry Plaza Shopping Center, where Routes 6 and 28 split into west and eastbound lanes, to a point approximately 900 feet east of the Red Brook Road Intersection, adding medians, upgrading traffic signals, and replacing a drainage system in an attempt to reduce flooding.
The contract for the work was awarded to P.A. Landers, a Hanover-based construction company, on April 2 at a cost of approximately $17.4 million, which will be paid for by the state and federal governments, and a Notice to Proceed was issued on April 10.
So far, the only physical work that has been completed is the relocation of utility poles by Eversource.
This month, drainage work is set to begin.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation doesn’t anticipate shutting down the road completely, although some lanes will be closed to accomplish the work.
The project is scheduled to be completed by summer 2023.
Plans for the reconstruction were first unveiled in 2012, but the start date has been pushed back a number of times due to a lack of state funds.
Initially, the reconstruction was planned for a longer 2.2 mile strip of the highway from the point where the two highways join just west of the Stop & Shop plaza to the Bourne line.
At that time, construction was scheduled to be completed by November 2014.
The Highway has been the site of many crashes: an average of 150 per year. Between 2011 and 2016, 10 pedestrians were hit by cars on the highway, resulting in four deaths.
To make the highway safer, medians will be installed and traffic lights will be improved.
Traffic signals will be upgraded at Cranberry Drive Plaza/Home Depot Drive, Main Avenue and a new traffic signal system will be added at Red Brook Road.
All traffic signal equipment will be new or replaced and will include pedestrian indications compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Accommodations for U-turns will be included at each intersection.
Additionally, shoulders wide enough for cyclists and sidewalks will be added on both sides of the road.
New signs and pavement markers will be added.
All the necessary land-taking, both temporary and permanent, has been completed. Most takings were “strip takings” adjacent to the side of the road, with a width of less than ten feet. Two parcels were also taken.
Officials made several changes to the plan last year to better accommodate requests from abutters and business owners, including adding night work to reduce disturbances to businesses, changing some curb cuts, adding additional drains to reduce flooding, and revising the timing of signals.
Business owners were vocal opponents of the project at public meetings held in 2012 and 2018.
Many of the East Wareham businesses lost customers with the opening of Wareham Crossingin West Wareham in 2008 and the loss of TJ Maxx, and Staples. Walmart moved from East to West Wareham in 2015, dealing another blow.
Business owners expressed concerns about the construction would be another blow to the books, and worried that customers would not travel the additional distance to make a U-turn after construction is complete.
At a 2018 meeting, officials said they would consider curtailing construction during the tourist season — an idea that seems to have been abandoned.