Planned $20 million Cranberry Highway construction project goes out to bid

Sep 24, 2018

A nearly $20 million overhaul of a 1.6-mile stretch of Cranberry Highway in East Wareham should start construction next year, state officials say.

The project would 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.

According to Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials, pre-bid estimates put construction costs at $19.9 million. The state advertised the project to potential contractors on Sept. 22, said Judi Riley, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

She said the project was moving forward on schedule.

“MassDOT anticipates that the opening of the submitted bids would take place in winter 2019,” said Riley. “The notice to proceed for construction would then subsequently be awarded in the spring of 2019.”

Project plans were first unveiled in 2012. However, a lack of state funds pushed back the start date many times. Construction is currently estimated to take 32 months, or three construction seasons. At public hearings held last winter, many voiced concerns about the impact the project would have on business owners. While some lanes will be closed, the Department of Transportation doesn’t anticipate shutting the road down completely. There will be a pre-construction public meeting in March 2019 to keep people informed on traffic changes.

Safety on the highway has long been a concern. According to state data, that stretch of highway averages 150 crashes per year. Between 2011 and 2016 there were 10 pedestrian versus vehicle crashes, four of them fatal.

In October 2016, 56-year-old Ernest Raddatz of Wareham was struck and killed by a white Ford pickup truck while crossing Cranberry Highway. Police said the truck’s driver turned around after hitting Raddatz, leaving him in the middle of the road, and fled the scene.

In May 2013, a homeless woman, Annmarie Rita, was killed by a car on Cranberry Highway. That incident followed another fatal crash that took the life of 59-year-old Barry Russell. He was killed on Cranberry Highway in April 2013.

The project’s design is aimed at addressing several safety issues by installing a median and upgrading traffic signals, according to state officials. Additionally, a new drainage system should reduce flooding on the highway officials say.

Specific work includes building four travel lanes (two lanes in each direction separated by a median), bicycle accommodating shoulders and sidewalks on both sides of the road.

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 should be included at each intersection. The existing drainage system should be replaced with a new one. The project also includes new signs and pavement markings.

Riley said following this past winter’s public hearing sessions, designers took into account several concerns from those living and working along the construction route.

Some of those changes include: adding night work to reduce disturbances for abutters, changing some curb cuts to better suit property owners, adding additional drains to reduce flooding and revising the timing of signals.

Riley also said a potential 174-unit affordable housing project slated near the intersection of Red Brook Road and Cranberry Highway was taken into account. Plans for the housing project were announced last year.

She said state officials coordinated with the developers to address “additional pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles.”

Potential housing development proposed at the intersection of Red Brook Road and Cranberry Highway

  • “If this development moves forward it will be coordinated with the Town of Wareham and MassDOT to ensure the new traffic signal at the intersection operates efficiently,” said Pamela Haznar of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.