A $5.7 million project to install cable guardrails along Interstate 95 from Danvers to Boxford aims to improve safety along a stretch of highway with a high incidence of accidents that carries 80,000 vehicles each day, according to the state Department of Transportation.
“This is a safety enhancement we had identified as an upgrade for that portion of the highway,” said Mike Verseckes, a transportation department spokesman.
Verseckes said the project, planned since 2011, is unrelated to a bus crash in February, which injured the driver and several members of the University of Maine women’s basketball team. The bus, which was headed southbound on I-95, crashed over a median strip in Georgetown after the driver had what was described as a medical emergency.
“This is unrelated,” Verseckes said. “It was planned long before that.”
There are no plans to install guardrails on the Georgetown portion of the road, he said.
The guardrails being installed from Danvers to Boxford, on a stretch that is four lanes in each direction, could lessen the impact of a future crash on that portion of the highway, Verseckes said.
“The cable is set at a tension that is better equipped to absorb the impact of a vehicle,” he said.
A 2009 safety study of a 7.4-mile stretch of I-95 through Danvers and Topsfield indicated it was in generally good shape. But safety was a concern. There were 27 crashes involving the median on that stretch of highway. Eleven of those crashes involved vehicles crossing the median strip, the report found.
“Our analysis showed that this area warranted some additional cable guardrail,” he said.
In 2010, the most recent year for which crash data is available, there were six crashes involving the median in Boxford, Danvers, and Middleton, state data show. I-95 is a main travel corridor for residents north of Boston. But local communities have no control over highway improvements. Most local help is limited to providing police or fire backup when accidents occur, local officials said.
Middleton, Town Administrator Ira Singer said. “I-95 only goes through Middleton a very short distance.”
Bob Lee, the public works director in Danvers, also said the town has little to do with the highway. “The request for guardrails didn’t come from the town,” he said. “As far as I know, it’s a project that originated with Mass DOT.”
The first phase of construction, which began in 2012, involved repaving part of the highway, and repairs to four bridges, in Peabody. That portion of the work is completed, Verseckes said.
A total of 22,500 feet of cable guardrail is being installed along the median in Danvers, Topsfield, Middleton, and Boxford. On the northbound side, the cable will run from the Route 62 interchange to the Fuller Lane overpass. Southbound, it is being installed at the Endicott Road exit in Boxford and at the Route 1 exit in Danvers, according to the transportation department.
The contractor, Brox Industries of Dracut, works daily on the project. Some lane closures may be required, depending on what stretch of the guardrail is being installed. The project is scheduled to be completed in July, Verseckes said.
Kathy McCabe can be reached at kmccabe@globe. Follow her on Twitter @Globe KMcCabe.