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Beverly, Danvers

Route 128 project, local paving slow traffic in Beverly

A sign announced the closing of the Route 128 exit ramp at Route 35 in Danvers. Work should be done next month.

John Blanding/Globe Staff/File 2012

A sign announced the closing of the Route 128 exit ramp at Route 35 in Danvers. Work should be done next month.

In recent months, the phrase ‘‘You can’t get there from here’’ has taken on new meaning to drivers in Beverly and Danvers.

Much of the congestion can be traced to the reconstruction of access roads on routes 62 and 35 in Danvers leading to Route 128. Those Massachusetts Department of Transportation projects, which have stretched into their third year, are expected to be completed in November.

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The new access roads have caused long delays, at times backing up traffic along Route 62 more than a half-mile toward downtown Beverly.

To complicate matters, Danvers and Beverly are in the process of paving more than 20 streets, projects that would have been finished at least a month ago but were delayed because the funding was released by the state in July, a month later than expected.

“The intersection at Route 62 has been a real mess, and it has caused a lot of grief for a lot of people,’’ said Beverly Mayor William Scanlon. “The waits have been horrific. I try to avoid that at rush hour.”

Beverly is not alone in its aggravation with the project. “I think there’s been a sense of frustration of people being tired in traffic trying to get to work and school,” said Danvers Town Manager Wayne Marquis. “That’s an impact that hits people in their everyday lives.”

The project, meant to improve access to 128 from routes 62 and 35, began in the spring of 2010. Originally budgeted at $23 million, the work on the ramps and roads has slowed traffic on the two main local routes since construction began. The project ran $2 million over budget, after sections of the Route 35/128 interchange were found to be contaminated and in need of remediation.

‘I don’t know how well that intersection is going to perform even when it’s finished.’

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But beginning in June, when the access ramps to Route 62 were opened, traffic worsened in the area. Cars backed up on Route 128 as state engineers tried to handle the traffic flow. To make matters worse for drivers, paving needed to be done above the new ramps on Route 128. Also, lanes were reduced and detours placed on Route 62, making getting around the area more difficult. In some cases, the result was gridlock.

Sara Lavoie, Massachusetts Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said the work at the sites will be finished next month. She also said traffic should flow better as the state works to synchronize traffic patterns with lights.

“We are finalizing the design of the last of the traffic signal modifications that resulted from a revised analysis based on updated traffic counts,” said Lavoie. “We hope to have the majority of that work implemented sometime in November.”

Just how much the additional paving projects conducted in Danvers and Beverly contributed to the traffic tie-ups is unclear. Danvers Public Works director Dave Lane said the town allotted $1.7 million to pave 10 streets. Lane said the work will be finished by the end of the month, and added that he coordinated the local paving projects with the state in order to minimize traffic jams.

In Beverly, the city is spending around $2 million to pave about a dozen streets, including sections of downtown. Mike Collins, Beverly’s commissioner of Public Services and Engineering, said some of the downtown detours associated with the local paving could have contributed to traffic delays along Route 62 leading to the Route 128 interchange.

But he also pointed to a major source of incoming traffic — some 4,000 cars that leave the Cummings Center on Route 62 in Beverly at the end of the work day — as contributing to the backup.

Even when all the work at the revamped intersection of routes 128 and 62 is completed, Scanlon said he is unsure just how effective the new renovated roadway will be. “I don’t know how well that intersection is going to perform even when it’s finished,” the Beverly mayor said.

Steven A. Rosenberg can be reached at srosenberg@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @WriteRosenberg.
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