Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road Intersection Comment Letter

Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road Intersection Comment Letter

September 9, 2016

Principal Lina DeJesus
Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
445 Ashley Boulevard
New Bedford, MA 02745

Dear Principal DeJesus:

As part of the ongoing efforts to improve the safety of students walking to the Lincoln School, Kim Ferreira asked that WalkBoston evaluate the Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road intersection and recommend strategies to improve pedestrian safety at this intersection and along the Ashley Boulevard corridor.

On Thursday, September 1, I observed school dismissal from the Lincoln School and walked the Ashley Boulevard corridor from the school to the Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road intersection. While I saw some students walking from the school south down Ashley Boulevard, the majority of students were met by their parents or caregivers on the school grounds and then walked to their cars parked on the neighboring streets. Given that this was the first day of school, dismissal patterns may not be indicative of a typical day.

Below is a summary of my observations and short and long term recommendations for pedestrian safety improvements.

Ashley Boulevard and Nash Road Intersection

The Ashley Boulevard and Nash Road intersection has crosswalks and pedestrian countdown traffic signals on all four approaches. The traffic signals are push button-activated and on an exclusive phase, which means vehicular traffic is stopped in all directions when the WALK light is illuminated. At least two of the countdown signals are not working properly due to blown bulbs or some other mechanical failure. The walk time given to pedestrians is sufficient to cross the street before the DON’T WALK signal is fully illuminated. “No Right Turn on Red” signs are posted on all four corners. Parallel parking is allowed on both sides of the street on both Ashley Boulevard and Nash Road.

Nash Road connects Pleasant Street to Belleville Avenue across New Bedford, and is the only complete east-west connection between Tarkin Hill Road and Sawyer Street. Given this link, the road may carry higher volumes of traffic (SRPEDD or the City of New Bedford may have traffic volume data).

Traffic speeds were not excessive during the observed timeframe, although we have heard that traffic speeds are high along this corridor during off peak times. Driving behavior during the on peak time included accelerating to beat the red light and exhibiting frustration due to slow-moving traffic.

Ashley Boulevard/Nash Road intersection is signalized and has crosswalks across all approaches.
Pedestrian countdown signals are push button-activated, but two are not functioning properly.




  • Repair pedestrian countdown signals
  • Enforce no parking ordinances near the Ashley/Nash intersection and crosswalks
  • Enhance the crosswalk markings to a ladder crosswalk design
  • Enforce speed limits and/or place temporary speed trailer near the intersection to record traffic speeds and encourage slower driving


  • Install curb bump outs to shorten pedestrian crossing distances and give pedestrians greater visibility beyond parked cars. Bump outs have the added benefit of preventing drivers from parking too close to the intersection and the crosswalks. Bump outs should be designed similar to those proposed in the MA Safe Routes to School infrastructure project between the Ashley and Lincoln Schools.
  • Consider changing the exclusive pedestrian phase to a concurrent phase with a leading pedestrian interval. A concurrent phase gives walkers a WALK light when vehicular traffic is moving parallel to them. A leading pedestrian interval gives walkers the WALK light for at least 4 seconds before traffic moving parallel to them is given the green light. This added time gives pedestrians a chance to get into the crosswalk so that drivers can see them and yield to them.

School Dismissal

Dismissal was a typical demonstration of the controlled chaos that exists between drivers and walkers on elementary school grounds. According to the Lincoln School’s arrival and dismissal routines described in the student handbook, students in grades K-2 are dismissed on the Glennon Street side of the school. Students in grades 3-5 are dismissed on the Query Street side at the edge of the playfield. Parents/caregivers are expected to park and walk over to pick up their child.

Cars were parked on all the neighborhood streets around the Lincoln School and on both sides of Ashley Boulevard. Parents/care givers walk to the school, retrieve their children and walk back to their cars or to their homes. Both Query Street and Glennon Street are one-way streets with traffic flowing east toward Ashley Boulevard.

I did not observe dismissal along Glennon Street, but there were students at the school’s entrance waiting to be picked up by cars entering the school grounds from Ashley Boulevard. This location was one of the two most congested locations during dismissal. Drivers formed two lanes; some drivers parked along the curb and got out to meet their child. All of this traffic exited the school grounds onto Glennon Street. Glennon Street was backed up due to traffic coming from the east and high volumes of traffic on Ashley Boulevard.

Dismissal at the building entrance where drivers formed two lanes. Some parked along the curb to retrieve their child.

The second most congested location was at the Query Street dismissal location. Drivers park along the north side of the street and cross over through the traffic to reach the dismissal location. Walking between cars is dangerous and was done frequently with and without children. There is an extra pull-off lane along the playfield for drivers to park and pick up their child. Once in this pull-off lane it was difficult for drivers to get out to allow another person to pull into the space. Traffic from Query Street is also trying to get onto or across Ashley Boulevard.

Cars backed up on Query Street waiting to turn onto Ashley Boulevard.

There were no crossing guards on Ashley Boulevard either at the intersection of Query and Ashley, or at Glennon Street and Ashley Boulevard. Neither intersection is signalized. Given the high traffic volumes on Ashley Boulevard during school dismissal, people walk between cars (usually in the crosswalks) to cross the street. This behavior is dangerous particularly for children who are not as easily seen as adults.

Walkers navigating the traffic on Ashley Boulevard.

Short-term Recommendation:

  • Place crossing guards at the Query/Ashley and Glennon/Ashley intersections. Ideally, the crossing guards or traffic police could help direct traffic as well as cross the children/parents safely

Without more information on typical dismissal issues and policies, and additional days to observe dismissal, any additional recommendations made would be most likely be inaccurate or unhelpful. If you would like us to review dismissal procedures and make additional recommendations, then we can come back and meet with school staff and observe additional dismissals.

I would be happy to answer any questions you have about the information presented here. Feel free to give me a call at (617) 367-9255 or email me at

Thank you. I wish you all the best for the 2016-2017 Academic Year.

Stacey Beuttell
WalkBoston, Program Director

Comments are closed.