SOUTH CHATHAM – For years, residents of South Chatham have been advocating for a crosswalk on Route 28 where sidewalks switch from the north to the south side of the street. Now it looks as if state highway officials may be ready to follow through on the request.
According to Public Works Direct Tom Temple, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is putting together designs for pedestrian improvements at Route 28 and Route 137 and at Route 28 and Cockle Cove Road. The designs should be completed soon and then must be put out to bid. In an email, Temple said he anticipates the project would be ready for construction next spring or fall.
The South Chatham Village Association and Island View Land Association have been working with town officials to facilitate the improvements. Village Association board of directors member Frank Messina said the only crossing in the area is the bike path crossing on Route 137, just north of the Route 28 intersection. But the sidewalk along Route 28 moves from the north side to the south side just to the east of the intersection, without a crosswalk to help pedestrians safely cross the state highway.
“It's just a dangerous intersection,” he said, complicated by the location of the popular Short and Sweet ice cream shop just before the intersection.
Many bicyclists also cross at Cockle Cove Road to access the public beach at the end of the lane, Messina said.
The crosswalks would help slow traffic to make it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, he said.
In 2018, the South Chatham Village Association wrote of their concerns to the board of selectmen, noting that the town's comprehensive plan called for improvements to pedestrian safety along the Main Street corridor in South Chatham.
“It has been 15 years without any action to address these issues,” the association wrote, adding that the Route 28-137 intersection was a “pedestrian nightmare.” In a follow-up letter to the director of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation District 5, Temple noted the lack of a crosswalk, flashing lights or signs warning motorists that the sidewalk on Route 28 switches sides of the road. Traffic at the intersection is heavy, he wrote, and the reverse curve and widening of the street in this location “makes it almost impossible to cross safely.” He included a petition from residents of the area seeking safety improvements.
Temple said last week that initially the state said that the project would have to be placed on the regional Transportation Improvement Plan, or TIP, which delineates and ranks state and federal highway projects. But after additional correspondence and the matter “going up the chain” of command, the assistant district maintenance engineer for MassDOT indicated that designs for the changes were in the works.
Messina said the associations appreciate Temple's efforts.
“It looks like we're going to get something in the near future,” he said.