NATICK (CBS) – At the busy intersection of Route 9 and Oak Street in Natick, there is no shortage of orange cones or Jersey barriers.
But here is the problem: People around the area say they haven’t spotted a construction worker for months.READ MORE: COVID Vaccine Mandate Ordered For All Nursing Home Workers In Massachusetts
“The last time I saw activity here was October,” said nearby resident Phil Hunt. “It’s very frustrating. Nothing is happening.”
From the side of the road, Hunt pointed out a list of things that make the interchange a confusing maze for drivers. He also said the missing pieces of sidewalk and a “crosswalk to nowhere” make the area treacherous for pedestrians.
“This is a very dangerous place to be,” Hunt said.
The $5.7 million construction project was originally slated for completion last spring. However, to drivers who commute through the corridor, there is seemingly no end in sight.
Joe Doyle owns New England Mattress & Futon and said potential shoppers are steering clear of his corner business. After 26 years at the location, Doyle is thankful a few loyal customers are keeping his doors open.
“People tell me they don’t want to come into the area anymore because the traffic is so bad,” Doyle said. “I’d have to say that if we were starting our business today, we probably wouldn’t be able to stay in business.”
Natick town engineer Mark Coviello said he has heard plenty of complaints, but the Route 9 construction work is a state project.
“We are frustrated, too, because it has a huge impact,” Coviello said.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming Soon?
MassDOT spokesman Michael Verseckes said the project is delayed because of the relocation of utilities along the corridor. Road construction can’t go any further until the utility poles can be moved out of the way.
Verseckes said the new expectation is all key utilities will be moved in August. Most of the remaining work will take place at night to minimize disruption to commuters, he said.
Project completion is now estimated for fall 2015.
“We appreciate the patience that businesses and area residents have shown as we work to expedite the remaining items in this project,” Verseckes said.
MassDOT now offers reimbursement to private utility companies up to 50 percent of relocation costs, if they meet certain deadlines.
Verseckes said the policy was implemented because the state transportation agency attributed a high number of delays to utility relocations. And since the reimbursement offer started, those delays have dropped by 20 percent, he said.
However, that incentive does not apply to the Route 9 project in Natick. The policy took effect in September 2012, just 15 days after the Route 9 project went out to bid.
WBZ asked about the current project budget and why there has been a delay with the utilities relocation, considering the project has been in the works for several years. No information has been provided yet.
“If they would show some progress, it would be fine,” Hunt said. “It’s just a project that’s sitting there doing nothing. And that really bothers me.”MORE NEWS: Survey: Boston Area Ranks Second In The Country For Most Rodent Infestations