East Wareham highway construction to begin this year for safety's sake

$19 million project will give Cranberry Highway a makeover
By Lydia Goerner | Jan 06, 2018
Courtesy of: Massachusetts Department of Transportation Plans for reconstructing Routes 6 and 28 in East Wareham call for adding a concrete median for safety.

A long-stalled overhaul of Routes 6 and 28 in East Wareham is planned to begin this summer, with a $19 million project over two years to make the highway safer.

The project will bring major changes to the highway, which has seen several fatal crashes over the years. Additionally, officials are hopeful the improvements, while disruptive to businesses in the short term, will bring long term economic benefits to an area that has seen an exodus of businesses to West Wareham.

The plans were first unveiled in 2012. However, a lack of state funds pushed back the start date many times. Now, officials are ready to move forward.

The improvements will be made to Cranberry Highway between the separation of the westbound and eastbound lanes near the Cranberry Plaza Shopping Center and a point approximately 900 feet east of the Red Brook Road intersection. Construction will be done in two phases, the first in 2018 and the second in 2019, according to Selectman Alan Slavin.

The plan is to create two lanes going in each direction with a paved concrete median with sloped granite edging between them. The divider will stop people from cutting across the highway and making dangerous U-turns, Slavin said, while still allowing ambulances to cross over the divider, which will be around 4 inches high. There will be designated spots for cars to turn around in two or three spots in that stretch.

“That highway has been a serious issue for people getting killed and injured,” Slavin said. “It’s been on the list to fix the issue for probably 20 plus years.”

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. Raddatz was struck at approximately 8:30 p.m. and died less than hour later at Tobey Hospital. No arrests have been made in connection to the hit-and-run.

In May 2013, a homeless woman, Annmarie Rita, was killed by a car on Cranberry Highway. Rita was hit by a 22-year-old Wareham man, Eric Crowley, who was driving a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee. 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.

Originally, the construction was scheduled to begin in 2012, but it has been delayed over the years. Town Administrator Derek Sullivan said this is because there were insufficient funds available for the state to complete the project at that time. Now, the money is in place so the project is scheduled to begin for real.

“I’m thankful to Selectman Slavin for really working on getting this through when it’s something that, if he had not been constantly following up, would not have been done,” Sullivan said.

The original project went down to the bridge by Buzzards Bay, but it was scaled down to the current plan to make it more affordable.

The design of the project will include bicycle accommodating shoulders and sidewalks on both sides of the roadway, according to Judith Riley of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Traffic signals will be upgraded at Cranberry Drive Plaza, Cinema Drive and Main Avenue and a new traffic signal system will be added at Red Brook Road. The traffic signal equipment will all include pedestrian indications compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The existing drainage system will be replaced with a new one and new signs and pavement markings will be added.

The changes will take some getting used to initially, Slavin predicted, but he said in the long run it will be safer for everyone. Half of the stretch will be completed during phase 1 and the second half in phase 2 in 2019. Wareham will not own the highway and will not pay for the construction. It is all done with federal and state funds.

There will be a public comment session on the project in February. The date is not set yet, but people are welcome to attend the hearing and ask questions about how things will proceed now that the project has been approved once it is scheduled, Slavin said.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division anticipates scheduling public meetings for residents and business representatives in the near future to discuss the design, Riley said.

Director of Planning & Community Development Kenneth Buckland said the highway improvements are a step forward in making East Wareham attractive to economic development.

The area has seen an exodus of businesses starting in 2008 when Wareham Crossing first opened in West Wareham. TJ Maxx and Staples moved to the shopping center at that time. More recently, Walmart moved from East to West Wareham, opening a new supercenter. Wareham Marketplace, a shopping center located at the intersection of Tobey Road and Cranberry Highway featured the grand opening of an Aldis supermarket in November with more stores on the way.

Buckland said he’s hopeful that the vacant Benny’s, which recently saw its roof collapse during a snowstorm, will see some development soon. A Rhode-Island based real estate development firm purchased all of the former Benny’s stores. Development plans have not yet been announced.

Buckland said he subscribes to the “broken window theory” of development. Essentially, maintaining properties will generate more interest from developers. A revamped Cranberry Highway will aid that as well.

“You keep up the place and it will be more attractive,” he said. “We have to be diligent about the conditions and the perceived opportunities.”

Comments (15)
Posted by: Just Me1 | Jan 07, 2018 07:29

Although this road has needed attention for a long time, the process seems a bit backward to me. First it is approved (what was approved if there was no design?), then there is a public meeting to tell us about how things will proceed, then we get to have input and discuss the design.


BTW, what prevent pedestrians from running across the road in dark clothes at night, as they do now??

Posted by: cranky pants | Jan 07, 2018 09:33

" BTW, what prevent pedestrians from running across the road in dark clothes at night, as they do now?? "

This is called natural selection my friends... You just can't fix stupid.


Posted by: totellthetruth | Jan 07, 2018 09:38

Mr. Slavin  I certainly respect your "common sense" and experience on this issue. BUT- What in Gods name is going to prevent people from crossing that little 4 inch barrier to get to the other side of the highway? The situation at MacDonalds, Dunks,Liqour Locker, and other select spots is NOT going to stop or even Deter the Rear end collisions or Head-ons on this stretch of highway.

Posted by: joycebakes | Jan 07, 2018 10:51

Too bad there is no plan to make a road between stop and shop all the way to Main street and lights for traffic to go off rt 6 for local shopping. Maybe another from CVS to Red Brook.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jan 08, 2018 06:35

I see dead bicyclists.

Posted by: Doctor Deekas | Jan 08, 2018 10:13

This is the old plan from 10 years ago so I don't think they redesigned it. The article doesn't mention all of the space that needs to be taken back by the State to keep the road this wide. All the parking at the old 99, Bananas, and the like are going to be swallowed up by the new road width. The utility companies have to move the telephone poles back too. It should be fun to watch. Lots of entrance/exit reconstruction to existing properties that didn't own as much land as they spread out upon. At least the deadly left-hand turns across two lanes of traffic will be reduced to nill. Hope the 35mph is 'strictly enforced' afterwards since the new lane widths will conceivably let you go 65.

Posted by: greycat | Jan 08, 2018 13:18

Federal and State Funds?  No such thing!  Local gas taxes from all over the land are bundled into a slush fund for the Highway lobby.  The Feds and State don't have a dime.  It comes from us!

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jan 09, 2018 09:02

The 160(?) unit 40B housing complex is slated to be built smack in the middle of this. However it didn’t exist when the plans were done. The developer should have to pay for redesign to incorporate increased traffic, school and public bus stops and crosswalks and sidewalks at the site.

Posted by: Fiddler Crab | Jan 09, 2018 09:36

The median is depicted as concrete, four inches high, and at least one car width. Is there any consideration being given to planting some vegetation along some sections (still allowing for several emergency vehicle crossing access points and the planned turnouts)? This would go a long way toward making at least the Onset section, where businesses are concentrated and concrete dominates the scenery, more attractive. And hedges would contribute to safety by blocking headlights of opposing direction nighttime vehicles.  (sorry about the italics - it won't allow me to switch to block)


Posted by: Rosebud | Jan 09, 2018 09:56

The problem is not the road.  The problem is aggressive, impatient and rude drivers.

When I was a child, there was a PSA:  "wear WHITE at night."  It's still good advice.

Posted by: baron1701@yahoo.com | Jan 09, 2018 14:01

OnsetTogether - Great point. Credit where due - What about that 40B housing Prj? This may be a too little too late. Anything is a great thing. Very happy to see something done but just curious if this was considered.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jan 09, 2018 15:00

Here's the MA DOT project link https://hwy.massdot.state.ma.us/ProjectInfo/Main.asp?ACTION=ViewProject&PROJECT_NO=117106

Construction Begins: Winter 2018/2019, Project Manager: Carrie Lavallee (contact through link)

Estimated Total Federal Participating Construction Cost: $18,446,131.95, Estimated Total Contract Cost: $16,338,281.05

Funding Provision: This project is planned to be funded through the 2018 Transportation Improvement Program for the Southeastern Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Current Status PS&E Received (as of 01/05/2018 )



Posted by: OnsetTogether | Jan 09, 2018 15:03

Mr. Buckland is 100% correct about the "broken window theory" of development-and policing. The burned out cellar hole and derelect buildings in East Wareham and Onset do not invite development, yet nothing is ever done about it. There's some discord between the offices at Town Hall.

Baron since the Woodland Hills project still isn't even finalized, no, it was not considered when the highway project design was finalized in 2016. We need to contact the state and tell them that this is a game changer. There will be hundreds more residents directly impacted by this.

It's bad enough now with people pushing their grocery carts down a state highway without sidewalks and covered with snow.


Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jan 09, 2018 15:04

Rosebud, that is a great idea but what would folks do after labor day? There would also be a problem with the #metoo social justice warriors.

Posted by: cranberry scoop | Jan 09, 2018 21:45

I think Fiddler Crab made very good points. This could be  an opportunity to make the strip more attractive with plantings, and the plantings would block the lights coming from the other way.  I hope EastWareham isn't going to get the cheap, bare, basic upgrade. We have a lot of popular, busy restaurants on that road and I think it is an area worth taking the time and trouble to make thoughtful improvements. However, I do not understand why the work is going to be done during the summer. This is a summer community. Why not do the work in the spring or fall?

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