West Chatham Roadwork To Resume Sept. 3

By: Tim Wood

A fire hydrant and safety barrels mark the area near the George Ryder Road-Route 28 intersection where a new roundabout will be built this fall. TIM WOOD PHOTO 

Roundabouts To Be In Place By Winter

CHATHAM – By this winter, temporary roundabouts should be completed along Route 28, allowing residents to get familiar with new traffic patterns along the West Chatham corridor.

Construction on the two-year, $4 million reconfiguration of the 1,700-foot roadway between Barn Hill and George Ryder roads is scheduled to resume on Sept. 3, the day after Labor Day. The initial work will involve excavation along the road shoulders and completion of drainage on Barn Hill Road, with the roundabout work at George Ryder Road beginning on Sept. 16, according to a construction schedule released last week.

“We're on schedule at this point,” said Department of Public Works Director Tom Temple.

The project will narrow the three-lane section of Route 28 between Barn Hill and George Ryder roads to two lanes and create small roundabouts at both intersections. In the planning stages for a decade, the changes are designed to slow traffic and improve safety in the West Chatham village center.

A number of residents and businesses opposed the project, which, because Route 28 is a state road, is being built by the Massachusetts Highway Department with state and federal funding. Selectmen, however, continued to back it despite town meeting resolutions and petitions in opposition.

Drainage and other site preparation work began last fall. Some people at last week's summer town meeting expressed dissatisfaction at the way the contractor left things when work halted for the summer, taking exception to the “temporary” fixes left in place where the roadway had been excavated.

“Somebody didn't pay attention or doesn't care,” one summer resident said.

“How it looks now is not how it's going to look,” Town Manager Jill Goldsmith responded, adding that the town is working closely with the state highway department on aesthetic improvements that will be put in place once the road construction is completed.

That won't happen, however, until next spring or fall. This fall, contractor Lawrence Lynch Corp. will pulverize the existing roadway where the roundabouts will be and new material will brought in to bring the surface up to grade, Temple said. The temporary roundabout configuration will be put in place and the roadway marked so drivers can “get used to the pattern,” he said. The roundabouts will be completed with curbing and final paving later in the project.

Timing, however, could depend on the relocation of a critical utility pole on Barn Hill Road. New poles are in place along with underground utility conduits, and Eversource needs to begin the process of moving the final pole and transferring wires to the new poles. Other utilities, including telephone and cable TV, will be done after Eversource completes its transfer, Temple said. A hydrant on Barn Hill Road also needs to be relocated, he added. Officials are meeting with utility representatives Friday and hope to get a schedule for the pole work then.

“It would be nice to get them out of the way, out of the intersection on Barn Hill,” Temple said.

The temporary roundabouts should be in place before the project has to take a break for the winter, he said.

“I think it's a realistic goal,” he said.

Like last fall and spring, there could be traffic delays and temporary detours during the construction work. At least one lane should always be open, and there will be access to all businesses along the corridor, but there could be detours if police decided it is necessary for safety reasons, Temple said.

The latest construction schedule is posted on the project's page on the town's website.