Webster’s Routes 16 at 395 to be reconfigured
By JANET STOICA
You won’t see any changes for 18-24 months but it’s finally going to happen. Yes, the rumors, the frustrations, and the final reconstruction of the traffic exchanges for Route 16 and the I-395 ramps will begin in this decade. We hope. Let’s face it, our Webster Highway Department is the best at what they do but they are not the almighty State Highway Department which is overseen by the Federal Highway Department when it comes to Interstate 395.
We all know how slow the state and federal governments move, don’t we? Leeway should be given to them I suppose because it’s not like Webster or any other wonderful town like ours is the only municipality requesting highway construction assistance. Yes, there are hundreds of thriving towns like ours waiting (patiently?) to have their turn at state and federal funds to improve heavy-traffic areas like our Route 16 and 395 interchanges.
But big changes are coming. We hope. The miserable wait for those cars, trailer trucks, and buses waiting to make a left turn onto Route 16 after using the Webster 395-southbound exit ramp will soon be but a distant memory. We hope. The vehicles trying to make a left turn onto Route 16 from Cudworth Road will finally be blessed with a rotary that will stop 4-way traffic and make it much easier to navigate as we enter the rotary. Just think of this rotary as Webster’s version of the peanut rotary in Worcester’s Kelley Square. It’s not so bad. It’ll still be a crazy gauntlet of driving antics but at least we all get a chance to enter that round-about, right? One-two-three Ready? Go!
Here’s the deal: A draft Notice of Intent permit application was submitted to the Mass. Dept. of Transportation with approval slated for spring 2023. The Webster Conservation Commission then reviews. After approval, the right-of-way process begins consisting of property appraisals and negotiations with land owners that could take up to one year. Construction bids will be advertised in the fall of 2024.
Construction entails new traffic lights to be installed at the I-395-South exit ramp into Webster. The new lights will be programmed and tied into sequence with the lights at Price Chopper plaza to prevent backups to the 395 exit ramp area. Additionally, a rotary will be constructed at the Cudworth Road/Route 16 intersection. There will also be bicycle lanes, pedestrian sidewalks, and a replacement of the Mill Brook culvert to a precast concrete box culvert.
Can’t wait to have a smoother driving experience. Can’t come a day too soon. From 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. daily the I-395-South ramp is sometimes backed up onto I-395. It’s like kamikaze driving trying to make a left turn onto Route 16-East. It’s like having the composure of a saint if you are an employee of Mapfre Insurance waiting to get onto Route 16 to head into Webster never mind trying to make a left turn towards Douglas although I’m sure that many Mapfre employees have learned different ways to escape their parking lot dilemma by now. Hope springs eternal!