These are Dartmouth's most dangerous intersections

Oct 11, 2022

Many Dartmouth motorists will claim Route 6 is the worst place to drive in town and according to a report from the Dartmouth Police Department, those assumptions are correct.

The department recently compiled a list at the request of the Select Board, with focus on the town’s main thoroughfares. Rankings were based on the number of crashes officers responded to between 2019 and 2022.

This is not an official traffic study, as that would have to be conducted by the town’s Department of Public Works, Police Chief Brain Levesque noted during the Select Board’s Oct. 3 meeting.

Of least surprise to any Dartmouth resident is the placement of the intersection of Route 6, Faunce Corner Road, and Old Westport Road in the top spot. According to police department data, officers have had to respond to 56 crashes there since 2019.

The intersection is a frequent means of traveling from the west and north ends of New Bedford onto Route 6 West toward the Dartmouth Mall and other businesses. Last year, the intersection had the dishonor of being among the top 20 worst in the region due to the severity of crashes and damage to properties.

In a close second on the police department’s ranking is the intersection of State and Hathaway Roads, which saw 52 crashes since 2019. 

Ranking third is State and Slocum roads, which saw 44 crashes in the past four years.

Though not an official study, members of the Select Board say one of the biggest factors in all these crashes is the increase in traffic over the years.

“And we have limited roadways to handle that,” Select Board Chair David Tatelbaum said.

The spot where this is most evident is at Route 6 and Tucker Road, a spot known for causing backups at other spots and constant lane crossing. It also saw 25 crashes in the past four years, according to police data.

For years, state and local officials have sought solutions to the dangers of these intersections, particularly with cars going from Tucker Road to Hathaway Road.

Currently, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans to add new signals at the intersection of Route 6 and Hathaway Road, while moving existing signals at Tucker Road approximately 100 yards east. 

The town, meanwhile, would like to completely realign both intersections — something the state had until recently planned to do. According to DPW Director Tim Barber, the town’s relocation plans were then“kept on the back burner” after the state backed out in 2020.

He said with new developments such as an affordable housing complex on the Western Part of the highway, along with a proposed industrial park in New Bedford, now is the time to revisit realignment.

“[This] is going to add some additional, probably heavy-duty, traffic,” Barber said.

Funding the reworked design will be subject to approval at the upcoming Fall Town Meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 18. The estimated cost is $150,000.

According to Barber, the full project could cost up to $2 million because of the required land takings, the bulk of which involve commercial properties near Route 6.

He said if the town comes up with a shovel-ready project, “it is possible that [the state] would fund the construction,” something which is “still a few years out.”

Another intersection the DPW would like to address is Slocum Road and Hawthorn Street — the lowest ranked of the listed intersections with just 15 crash responses in the past four years.

Although with that design, Barber said his department would likely have to collaborate with the City of New Bedford to see if it would pay for any work done near Brownell Street.

“Good luck,” Tatelbaum said.

This design is also subject to Town Meeting approval. 

In addition to the drafts for those crossings, officials said they plan to conduct an official traffic study of the town’s intersections.