AASHTO Journal, 27 September 2013
Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation joined elected officials last Friday, Sept. 20, to celebrate the completion of a project in New Bedford that will provide easier access to the city’s historic downtown area for both vehicles and foot traffic.
MassDOT’s $12.5 million Route 18 improvement project, 80 percent of which was funded through the federal government, is aimed at not just accommodating growing traffic on the roadway but also allowing vehicles and pedestrians to more easily access downtown New Bedford and the waterfront. According to a 2007 traffic study, this portion of Route 18 carries more than 33,000 vehicles each day, a number that is expected to grow to about 40,000 by 2027. Also, currently, pedestrians attempting to cross the roadway to get to area attractions have difficulty safely doing so.
The Route 18 improvement project facilitates downtown and waterfront pedestrian access through intersection upgrades, most notably at Union Street and State Pier. MassDOT also is improving the aesthetic quality of the roadway through the New Bedford Historic District and the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park. The project also included a new Route 6 on-ramp, necessitating the construction of a new bridge.
“MassDOT is proud of its role to improve access to this historic and vibrant section of the city,” MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey said in a statement. “This investment offers residents, visitors, drivers and pedestrians alike safe crossings and connections to attractions and businesses that will support the economy for years to come.”