Plans for Route 6 renovations stay the same despite community concerns

Jul 18, 2023

After hearing the community’s concerns at a public hearing in March, state officials still don’t think moving Tucker Road is necessary to reduce traffic on Route 6.

Instead, MassDOT will stick with its most recent plan: moving the Tucker Road traffic light by 100 feet and synchronizing lights from Faunce Corner Road to Hathaway Road to help ease congestion in that area of Route 6, representatives said at the July 17 Select Board meeting.

The plan presented by MassDOT also involves adding three traffic lights where Hathaway Road and Route 6 meet, creating a three-way intersection.

Previously, town officials and residents were advised that making a direct connection between Hathaway Road and Tucker Road by forming a four-way intersection was the best solution. However, at the time, the town did not want to pay for the land to make that connection.

Residents agreed, and expressed at the March public hearing moving Tucker Road was the only feasible option.

“This preferred alternative, to me, is a watered-down version of what we really had originally and it would have worked marvelously,” Select Board member Stanley Mickeleson said at the March meeting, speaking as a private citizen. “This is not going to work. We are going to have troubles, and I can foresee it today.”

Now, after seeing the direct comparison of the two options, the Select Board was more supportive of the plan.

“There is not an immediate need for the relocation of Tucker Road,” said Bob Clinton, engineer and traffic specialist for MassDOT. “You’re going to get a lot of years of benefit out of just what’s being proposed now.”

He also made it clear that, if it is necessary, Tucker Road can still be moved to alleviate additional traffic in the future.

Select Board Chair, David Tatelbaum said in the future, when Hathaway road is used more because of New Bedford’s proposed industrial park, “it may become mandatory [to move Tucker Road], and that’s when we’ll go to the City of New Bedford and say, ‘you want that industrial park, you’re going to help us with [the] Tucker Road extension.’”

The plan is estimated to cost $10.5 million. Eighty percent will be paid for with federal money and twenty percent coming from Massachusetts state funding, with no cost to the town. The project won’t start until spring 2025 and is expected to take two and a half years to complete.

The changes will result in safer driving conditions, an issue that was repeatedly brought up at the March public hearing.

Moving the Tucker Road light up creates an additional 100 feet for cars to wait for the light change, which would prevent them from backing up into the Faunce Corner Road intersection, Clinton said.

As a consequence of this design, left turns would no longer be allowed from Champion Terrace onto Route 6.

Select Board member Heidi Silva Brooks pointed out this would be problematic for the school bus route that picks up students on Champion Terrace, because the school bus can not make the u-turn from west to east on Route 6.

Select Board Chair, David Tatelbaum agreed with Brooks' point.

“They’re going to have to just do a different bus route,” he said.

Clinton also addressed a solution proposed by a public safety officer at the public forum, which suggested moving a lane from the westbound side to the eastbound side. Clinton’s research showed making that change would cause severe traffic congestion going west down Route 6.