Route 20 Reconstruction Project in Charlton & Oxford - Project details

The project goal is to improve the safety of Route 20 in Charlton and Oxford.

Table of Contents

Project funding

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and The Central Massachusetts Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMMPO) are committed to the project and the required funding.  In the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) there is $74 million earmarked for this project.  For additional information on the MassDOT Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, please see information on the Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2021-2025 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. 

Safety improvements

Project elements to improve safety may include:

  • Roadway widening to include center median, shoulders and turning lanes at intersections
  • Raised Median or Barrier separating opposing directions of travel to reduce number and severity of crashes. 
  • Addition of a roadside clear zone for vehicle recovery, or guardrail
  • Designated ‘Emergency Pull-Off Areas’ for police enforcement and safe vehicle refuge.
  • Improvements to Route 56 signalized intersection (protected left turn provisions/phasing), and
  • Speed reduction measures.

To understand how the proposed reconstruction may affect safety, historic crash data from Route 20, West and East of the project limits was compared and evaluated. The current proposed project includes elements such as median barrier, shoulders and raised curb median as seen utilized where the crash rates are lower.

Speed mitigation

Project initiatives to address speed along the Route 20 corridor are achieved through Speed Enforcement, Signage and Design which may include:

  • Designated ‘Emergency Pull-Off Areas’ for Police Enforcement and safe vehicle refuge.
  • Speed Feedback Signs and Chevron Signage at curves
  • Advisory Speed Limit signage, cautioning lower speed limit at roadway curve near Oxbow Road/ Oak Drive
  • Modest modifications to improve roadway vertical and horizontal geometry
  • Modest Roadway widening providing median and roadside shoulders
  • MassDOT will retain existing Regulatory Speed Limit signage post-construction. 

For comparison purposes, the corridor operating speeds and crashes have been compared with adjacent sections of Route 20. Various design elements such as lane and shoulder width, signage, median treatments, and barrier systems were evaluated with respect to their influence on vehicular speeds and safety. Design elements shown to reduce speeds have been incorporated into the project.

The Charlton-Oxford Route 20 Project is a topic of interest and case study for the MassDOT Highway Division Speed Management Committee.

Proposed median design

  • Richardsons Corner Road to Route 56, the proposed design includes a cement concrete median barrier. This matches the existing portion of Route 20 to the west of the project limits in Charlton.
  • Route 56 to Route 12, the proposed design includes a 4-foot wide raised curb median. The raised median will match the existing roadway to the east of the project limits in Auburn and maintains the residential character of the neighborhood.

Signalized intersections and U-turn locations

The proposed project includes 4 signalized intersections; 3 existing and 1 new at Oxbow Road in Oxford.

  • Signalized intersection with designated turning lanes and U-Turn:
    • Richardson Corner Road
    • Oxbow Road
    • Route 56
    • Route 12
  • Each intersection will be equipped with upgraded or new signal equipment with optimized timing to reduce vehicle queuing and improve level of service.
  • Pedestrian Crossings and signal push button at each new or reconstructed signalized intersection
  • Investigation and analysis were performed at the following intersections with Route 20, and it was determined that current conditions do not warrant a signalized intersection. Left turns onto Route 20 and U-turns will therefore be restricted by a median at each of the following locations:
    • Baypath and Glenmere Road
    • Pioneer Drive
    • Thayer Pond Village (Emergency vehicle access may be provided at curb median)

Potential development adjacent to Thayer Pond Village

A new private development is anticipated on the Westbound side of Route 20, easterly of Thayer Pond Village. The private developers are currently pursuing local and state permits and are in coordination with the Town of Oxford Planning Board. The planned development is to include condo units and retail space.

The project team has had several meetings with the current developer and continues to work with their design team in effort to coordinate public highway improvements with the adjacent private development. The proposed design supports a future signalized entrance, should it become warranted in the future.

Emergency response times

The project team has been working with emergency responders in both Towns to ensure adequate response times for first responders both during and after construction. Although the presence of a median barrier may require response vehicles to travel a greater distance, it is anticipated that emergency responders will experience reduced response times due to the ability to bypass traffic with increased roadway shoulder widths and signal equipment control. A mutual response agreement exists with first responders in adjacent communities who respond as required.

Pedestrian and bicycle accommodations

Pedestrian and bicycle accommodations were selected based on evaluation of pedestrian and bike use demand throughout the corridor. Design may include:

  • A shared Use Path (SUP) for bicycles and pedestrians on the Westbound side of Route 20 from Route 12 to Oxbow Road in Oxford
  • A pedestrian sidewalk on the Eastbound side of Route 20 from Route 56 to Route 12.
  • Crosswalks and pedestrian crossing signal at each existing or new signalized intersection. An on-demand push button for pedestrian signals will help direct pedestrians when crossing the street. All vehicular lanes from each direction will have a red light during the pedestrian crossing phase.

WRTA bus route

The project team has been in communication with the WRTA throughout the project design. At this time, the WRTA will not make a flag stop on Route 20 within the project limits and does not have definitive plans to incorporate additional stops.


The project team has coordinated the current design with both Town and Private utility companies to ensure infrastructure needs are accommodated and opportunity has been provided to upgrade respective systems.

  • Charlton: The Town of Charlton owns an existing dry water line from Richardson’s Corner to Glenmere Road which is for future use and not being extended east of Glenmere Road at this time. There is currently no Town sanitary sewer service along the Route 20 corridor in Charlton, and no plans are included as part of this project.
  • Oxford: The water infrastructure in the Town of Oxford is privately owned and operated. The existing system is located on Route 56 and on Route 20 from Pioneer Drive to Route 12. The expansion or upgrade of the water distribution network is under consideration by the owner. Town of Oxford owns and maintains the existing sanitary sewer network along Route 56 and on Route 20 from Route 56 to east to Turner Road.  The Town is currently seeking grants to assist in the funding of upgrades to the existing system and extension of service west to Oxbow Road and on Pioneer Drive.
  • The project will require the relocation of most of the existing utility poles along the corridor.  These utility poles carry electric and telecommunication services. The costs associated with relocating these services underground is prohibitive. 

Trash collection

Basic municipal services such as trash collection or private services such deliveries, will generally function as they do today. Residents should contact their Town or the private vendor providing the service for any help or coordination.

Impacts to Private Property

There are areas of the project that require additional Right-of-Way for the roadway improvements.  Right-of-Way is publicly owned area reserved for transportation purposes.

If your property, or a portion of it, needs to be acquired, you will be contacted by a representative of the MassDOT Right of Way (ROW) Bureau to arrange a meeting.  At the meeting, our representative will provide you with a right-of-way plan showing the impacts to your property and offer an overview of the project. They will also explain the acquisition process, review information relative to the property, and document any concerns you may have. 

MassDOT provides uniform and equitable treatment for those whose property is acquired.  MassDOT respects fundamental property rights and is committed to treating all property owners with fairness and respect.

Additional information may be found via the MassDOT Right of Way. 




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