DANVERS — The long-delayed traffic improvements at the intersection of Maple (Route 62) and Summer streets are finally moving forward.
Crews this week will installed traffic signals and a 40-foot "mast arm" used to support them.
The $1.3 million project to improve the intersection that serves traffic from St. John's Prep should be finished up in August. The project's planning dates back a number of years and actual work began at the site in June 2018.
While a bulk of the improvements have been completed, included a new layout, corner rounding, traffic island, curbing, an extensive drainage system and paving, addition of the traffic lights has held the project up.
On Wednesday, crews were out installing signal heads and posts at the intersection, said Eric Richard, a civil engineer in the town's engineering division. On Thursday, a crane will be used to lift a 40-foot "mast arm" into place, work that will require Route 62 to be narrowed to one lane.
For the first couple weeks after installation, Richard said the lights will be set to blink so motorists get used to them before officials fully activating the lights. The intersection is scheduled to be painted with crosswalks, lines and arrows in the first week of August.
What was the holdup in the work?
After the work started in June 2018, Richard said, they had to conduct a soil analysis to determine what size mast arm the site could handle. Then, they ordered the traffic signal.
Instead of a generic galvanized steep mast arm, the town ordered a black, fluted decorative traffic signal, Richard said. However, there were only two companies in the United States making those signals, and then – about the time the town went to order the decorative traffic signal – one of the outfits stopped manufacturing them. The company that was left, which was based in the Midwest, saw an influx of orders.
Instead of keeping the intersection under construction in anticipation of the installation of the traffic signal, the town decided to finish the road construction, and install the traffic signals when the mast arm arrived.
Town Manager Steve Bartha said the delay in the intersection's completion was due to the wait for the mast arm's arrived from the manufacturer.
"It is in fact in transit, but we expect the project to be completed by the end of the month," Bartha said Wednesday.
The general contractor on the project is Allied Paving Corp., and the bid for the work was $893,641, Richard said. The total project cost was $1.3 million, which included engineering, construction and contingencies. St. John's Prep contributed $40,000 toward the project as the school has expanded in recent years with a new middle school program and other improvements to the campus.
The "multi-phase" project was paid for through Danvers Electric's capital plan, and it was approved by the Light Board, selectmen, the Finance Committee and Town Meeting in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Bartha said.
The mast arm and signal installation is scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday,.
"Once installation is complete," a notice to residents says, "the initial programming and timing of the lights will be implemented within the upcoming weeks. Timing of the traffic lights will be re-adjusted in the fall."
For those with questions or concerns, you may contact the Engineering Division at 978-777-2668, ext. 3619, or email at email@example.com.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.