Traffic snarl: Plans vary on easing intersection backups

Nov 9, 2021

The town and state agree that the current intersection at Hathaway Road and Route 6 creates significant back-ups and serious headaches for drivers.

One of the issues: Drivers looking to head onto Tucker Road often drive on Hathaway Road, take the right onto Route 6, then travel a few feet west to make a quick left onto Tucker Road. This requires crossing lanes, which can be precarious.

The intersection is also 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. During the holiday season, drivers can face lengthy back-ups, often more than five minutes.

This has led to the intersection being named one of the top 50 most dangerous intersections in the region by the Southeastern Regional Planning and Development District. 

But the town and state differ on how to solve the issue.

The town would prefer to align Hathaway Road and Tucker Road, said Dartmouth Director of Development Cody Haddad. This would eliminate the dog leg between the two major roads.

“The town feels realignment is a lot better,’’ he said. “We want to work with the state to see what we can do to move that forward.’’

Meanwhile, the state seeks more immediate changes to the intersection.

According to designs by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the state plans to install new traffic signals at the intersection at Route 6 and Hathaway Road, while moving existing signals at Tucker Road approximately 100 yards east.

“Signals will be coordinated along the corridor to allow for the more efficient flow of traffic,” MassDOT spokesperson Kristen Pennucci said.

The state also plans to widen the shoulders on the road and its sidewalks to improve accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The project is fully funded and construction is expected to begin in late 2023 or early 2024. 

While it differs from the Town of Dartmouth’s relocation plans, Pennucci said the state’s project “does not preclude the relocation of Tucker Road at some point in the future” if the town continues in that direction.

Plans to align the roads have been discussed for years, with solutions including the potential taking of businesses in the area by eminent domain

A previous proposed $5.6 million project involved rerouting Tucker Road through the site of the recently closed North Dartmouth Library, and forming a new four-way signalized intersection with Hathaway Road and Route 6.

Concerns were raised about funding for required land takings, the bulk of which involve the Metro Pizza plaza on Route 6. Portions of a parking lot of a nearby medical office, and portions of residential properties around the old North Dartmouth Library would also need to be taken under this plan.

Drivers often choose to use Hathaway Road because they do not have to stop at traffic lights until they reach the intersection with Shawmut Avenue in New Bedford. This stretch includes a turn onto Rockdale Avenue.

Improvements to the Hathaway Road intersection “should have been done a long time ago,’’ Emergency Management Agency director and Dartmouth Police Sgt. Joe Vieira said.

Vieira urges drivers to stay vigilant and keep their composure. 

"Everybody’s just so impatient,'' he said.