With the announcement that New Bedford’s first retail adult-use cannabis facility has been granted its final approval and will open later this year at 115 Coggeshall Street, many are wondering what the parking situation will be, and how the facility will impact traffic in the area.

The Ascend New Bedford facility will be located in what was once the office of the historic Fairhaven Mill property; the building is situated in the Riverside Landing complex, between the building that houses Little Caesars Pizza and Popeye’s Chicken.

As part of the permitting process, the civil engineering firm Fuss and O’Neill, Inc. conducted the required traffic study to see how much the cannabis facility would increase traffic around the plaza, which also houses Market Basket, as well as the traffic on Coggeshall Street itself and coming from the 195 off-ramp.

“It is the professional opinion of Fuss and O’Neill, Inc. that the proposed development at 115 Coggeshall Street will not have a significant impact on traffic operations within the study area,” the firm concluded in its report.

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The traffic study was conducted during peak afternoon hours on a Thursday, and midday on a Saturday, which is expected to be one of the busier times for customers of the facility.

In addition, any deliveries will only occur during off-peak hours whenever possible, and delivery vehicles will not be permitted to back out onto Coggeshall Street.

As for parking, City of New Bedford zoning ordinances require the facility to have 24 available parking spaces for a building of its size (the retail space is expected to be just under 5,000 square feet). Nine new spaces will be created on the north side of the building as part of renovations, with 16 more spaces in the plaza to be designated for use by patrons and employees of the dispensary.

To ensure that would be enough parking, Fuss and O’Neill conducted a parking study on a Friday afternoon between noon and 6:30 p.m., determining that of the plaza’s 146 parking spaces (10 of which are handicapped-accessible spots and seven are reserved for the urgent care facility), at the peak time of 1 p.m., only about 44 percent of the spaces were occupied.

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That information, combined with a formula of how many patrons could be served per hour in the cannabis dispensary, led the firm to determine that the 24 spaces are adequate.

In addition, according to the permitting applications, Ascend has developed a plan to promote usage of the Southeast Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) bus system, specifically Routes 2 and 11. In addition to promoting bus use for patrons, Ascend will also provide a pre-paid pass for the bus to any employee who uses it to commute to the dispensary; will prioritize hiring employees that live locally and can get to work via bus, bicycle or on foot; will reimburse an employee who regularly walks to work with one new pair of walking shoes each year; will install a bicycle storage area on-site, for both employees and customers; and will incentivize carpooling for employees with small bonuses or other programs.

If patrons of the cannabis facility attempt to park in front of the building alongside Coggeshall Street, Southcoast Apothecary, owners of Ascend, may be required to install “No Parking” signs along Coggeshall to ensure no vehicles are parked there.

All of this information was culled directly from the permitting process paperwork that is available for viewing on the City of New Bedford Planning Board website.

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