Launch of Dedham St. construction highlights busy roadwork season

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Rendering of the new I-95 off-ramp (on right) and existing I-95 on-ramp (Source: MassDOT)

Rendering of the new I-95 off-ramp (on right) and existing I-95 on-ramp (Source: MassDOT)

The start of a major infrastructure improvement project on Dedham Street, the final phase of a gas main replacement program on Washington Street, and a series of town paving projects are all on the docket in what is shaping up to be another busy summer construction season across the town of Canton.

All three major undertakings are either currently underway or expected to begin soon, with work lasting through the summer and into the fall — and well beyond in the case of Dedham Street.

As for the gas main project on Washington Street, which runs from Sherman Street to Canton High School, construction began on July 10 and will require an estimated 70 days to complete, according to a statement put out by Columbia Gas. The project involves the removal of old steel and cast iron pipes and the installation of new plastic pipes and is part of a long-range infrastructure modernization effort across the region that will span the next 20 years or so.

Last summer, Columbia Gas replaced gas mains on Neponset Street, York Street, and another portion of Washington Street. Chavonne Baldwin, a spokesperson for Columbia Gas, said the current work on Washington Street is one of the last phases for that part of Canton and is the only large project in the town scheduled for the current construction season.

Meanwhile, over on Dedham Street, work is only just beginning on a massive, $44-million, state-funded infrastructure improvement project that is expected to take an estimated five years to complete. The state held a ground-breaking ceremony in May that was attended by Governor Charlie Baker and other state and local officials, and construction on phase one of the project kicked off in June.

Plans call for the complete reconfiguration of a large stretch of Dedham Street — approximately 3,800 feet from Kirby Drive to an area west of the Neponset River — including the addition of new travel lanes (increasing from one to two lanes in each direction), a new off-ramp from I-95 northbound, widening of bridges over the Neponset River and the railroad tracks, and replacement of the bridge over I-95.

In addition, traffic signals will be installed at Shawmut Road and the two I-95 ramps (existing southbound on-ramp and new northbound off-ramp), and a dedicated turning lane will be added to allow vehicles traveling westbound on Dedham Street to turn left onto I-95 south. The project also calls for the construction of a sidewalk on the north side of Dedham Street, new bike lanes on both sides of the street, and a new walkway leading to the Trustees of Reservations’ Signal Hill property.

The stated purpose of the project, according to the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT), is to improve access to the Route 128 commuter rail station and the University Station development in Westwood while also substantially reducing cut-through traffic on Canton’s residential streets.

The Dedham Street improvements are also part of a broader regional improvement plan that focuses on the I-95/I-93 interchange and the area surrounding University Station. Previous work focused on the Canton Street/University Avenue intersection and the Blue Hill Drive off-ramp, and future work will focus on the interchange itself and widening of I-95.

Last Wednesday evening, representatives from MassDOT held a public information session at Canton High School, where they presented an overview of the project and outlined plans for construction. Officials said the work will be completed in six stages, beginning with widening on the south side of Dedham Street and ending with construction of the new I-95 bridge and northbound off-ramp. The anticipated completion date is May 2022.

According to MassDOT officials, the plan is to maintain a minimum of one lane of access in each direction throughout the construction period. Any detours, they said, would be minimal and would be “planned, coordinated, and publicized in advance.” They also noted that pedestrian and bicycle accommodations would come on line at the conclusion of the project.

Beyond the state’s work on Dedham Street and the private utility work on Washington Street, the town DPW also has two major paving projects in the pipeline for this summer — one in the Mechanic/Rockland/Howard Street area and the other on York Street.

DPW Superintendent Mike Trotta said they have already milled the pavement in the first location, and contractors are expected to install curbing and sidewalks over the coming weeks with final paving to be done sometime in September. The paving project in that area represents the final phase of an extensive infrastructure upgrade that included water main replacements.

As for the York Street project, Trotta said it will involve a “full-depth reclamation,” in which the asphalt is grinded down and then the road is regraded and paved. That work, he said, would start later this month and encompass the southern portion of York Street, roughly from Ledgewood Drive to the Stoughton line. Also scheduled to be paved around the same time are Carver and Campanelli circles, Cedar Street, and York Brook Road.

Additionally, Trotta said there is some sewer work that needs to be done on Washington Street near Walnut Street. As of last week, he said it was still in the design stage and would likely be done sometime in the fall.

For the latest news and information on road construction projects, visit the “News and Announcements” section at town.canton.ma.us or follow the town of Canton on Twitter @TownofCantonMA.

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