Dartmouth-Westport Route 6 Makeover Is Needed [OPINION]
When I was a kid, I thought that U.S. Route 6 ran all the way down the East Coast to Florida. Dopey kid. Route 6, or the Grand Army Highway of the Republic (GAR Highway) as it is more appropriately known, begins in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and winds its way across the country to Bishop, California.
According to Wikipedia, Route 6, in existence since 1926, is more than 3,198 miles long and crosses 14 states. It was once the longest highway in America until modified, making Route 20 from Seattle, Washington to Boston the longest in America. I have actually traveled or intersected Route 6 in several states, including Connecticut, Colorado, and Nevada. It's like running into an old friend while on the road.
Before Interstate 195 sliced and diced its way through Southeastern Massachusetts, there was Route 6. It was that magical highway where Lincoln Park reigned supreme until time and technology took their toll. Route 6 wove a path past quaint motor courts, motels, gift shops, and lobster feasts all the way to the tip of Cape Cod. Most of that is gone now as Cape-bound travelers whizz right by at breakneck speeds along the Interstate.
Recently the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) issued a request for public comment as part of a virtual workshop entitled "What Is Your Vision For Route 6?"
"Come have your voices heard and tell us what you want to see for the future of Route 6 along our study area," urged a SRPEDD Facebook post.
The post said workshops would examine two specific zones: "Route 6 from the Westport/Dartmouth town line to Cross Road in Dartmouth. The Westport workshop will cover Route 6 from the Westport/Fall River town line to the Westport/Dartmouth town line."
At first glance, I thought there had been a mistake. Route 6 from Cross Road westward to Fall River appears to be in good enough shape. Route 6 from the New Bedford line westward to Cross Road, however, is a disaster. That area is probably in need of a total redo.
The more I thought about it, though wider and with fewer stoplights, Route 6 from Cross Road to Fall River does need some work. It is a race track where sometimes I catch myself doing better than 60 miles per hour. The two lanes on either side with no turning lanes can create some hairy scenarios.
All of Route 6 from New Bedford to Fall River is badly in need of sidewalks and improved median strip turnarounds. It's also time to slow things down just a bit.
What do you think? Does Route 6 need a redo, and if so, what would you recommend? You can pass along your ideas to SRPEDD, and who knows, perhaps someday you will see them incorporated into a new masterplan for the highway.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.