What’s going on with Cranberry Highway?
Construction on Cranberry Highway began just over three years ago and drivers since have had a front-row seat to the painstaking action as crews have worked to widen the road, move utility poles and add sidewalks.
Wareham police have recently reported that work to build a median will begin on Wednesday, July 27. They advise drivers to avoid the area late this week.
But after all this time, it might be hard to remember what all that work — stretching from 500 feet east of Tyler Avenue to the intersection with Red Brook Road — is for.
The renovation of the highway is intended to increase safety for drivers, pedestrians and bikers alike. Despite significant foot traffic, the road had no sidewalks, forcing pedestrians to walk on the shoulder of the road without protection from traffic.
And with only a few crosswalks, pedestrians often had to take their chances jaywalking across four lanes of traffic — with drivers often exceeding the posted 35 mph speed limit.
The renovations cover 1.65 miles of roadway and have a total cost of roughly $17.3 million.
Intersections will be upgraded with new traffic signals and space for U-turns. The median will restrict where drivers can turn left — which may help reduce the number of traffic accidents on the heavily-trafficked road.
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.
The newly widened highway will feature sidewalks on both sides of the road, as well as shoulders wide enough for cyclists to use.
MassDOT shared a timeline for the rest of the work. Per its website, the project is just over 70% complete.
For the remainder of this year’s construction season, which lasts from spring to fall, crews will work to complete sidewalks and driveways throughout the work area.
Crews will begin work on the raised center median which will be installed from about the location of the old 99 Restaurant until the Main Avenue intersection.
There will be breaks in the median at each signalized intersection for those turning left or making a U-turn, plus an additional break for passenger cars needing to make a U-turn just east of Water Wizz.
This fall, the curb around the median will be installed.
Overhead utility relocations will continue through the summer and as long as weather allows. The contractor may start installing overhead street lighting later in the summer or in the fall.
In 2023, work on relocating utilities, lighting and building the median is scheduled to continue. Contractors will widen the westbound side of the road at the eastern end of the work area.
The Main Avenue and Sand Pond Road intersection will be reconstructed, with a new traffic light added. Traffic in both directions will have a signalized left-turn lane. The section of Main Avenue between the Cranberry Highway intersection and the railroad crossing will be repaved.
Much of the work is expected to be complete by winter, including the medians, sidewalks, lighting and pedestrian signals.
Construction is expected to wrap up in 2024.