Technical Memorandum


DATE:   December 15, 2022

TO:         Chris Dilorio, Town of Hull

FROM:   Julie Dombroski, Boston Region MPO Staff

                Seth Asante, Boston Region MPO Staff

RE:         Safety and Operations Analyses at Selected Intersections, FFY 2022—George Washington Boulevard at Rockland Circle in Hull


This memorandum summarizes the analyses and improvement strategies for the intersection of George Washington Boulevard and Rockland Circle, an extension of Rockland House Road, in Hull.


This memorandum contains the following sections:

  1. Study Background
  2. Existing Conditions
  3. Issues and Concerns
  4. Crash Data Analysis
  5. Existing Conditions Analysis
  6. Proposed Short-term Improvements
  7. Long-term Improvement Alternatives
  8. Recommendations


The memorandum also includes technical appendices that contain data and methods applied in the study.


1          Study Background

The purpose of the “Safety and Operations Analyses at Selected Intersections” studies is to examine safety, operations, and mobility issues at major intersections in the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) planning area. These studies focus on arterial highways where:


For more than 10 years, the MPO has been conducting these planning studies with municipalities in the region. The communities find the studies beneficial, as they provide an opportunity to begin looking at the needs of problematic locations at the conceptual level before municipalities commit funds for design and engineering. Eventually, if a project qualifies for federal funds, the study’s documentation will also be useful to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and its project-development process.


These studies support the MPO’s visions and goals, which include increasing transportation safety, maintaining the transportation system, advancing mobility, and reducing congestion.


2          Existing Conditions

The study intersection is located southeast of Nantasket Beach and Paragon Boardwalk, in the Town of Hull. There are numerous safety concerns at the intersection of George Washington Boulevard at Rockland Street for people who walk and bike.


Land adjacent to the intersection is zoned Single-Family-C and Commercial-Rec-B. Single-Family-C is a residential zoning use classified by detached single-family dwellings, requiring a minimum of 12,000 square feet. for subdividing lots. The area south of Rockland Circle is zoned Single-Family-C. Commercial-Rec-B is a multi-use zoning designation classified by multi-family residences, hotels, motels, inns, marinas, restaurants, convenience stores, and places of amusement. The area north of Rockland Circle is zoned Commercial-Rec-B.


At the northeast corner of the study intersection is a parcel of land owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). DCR owns and operates a parking lot on this parcel. The lot has an ingress/egress off Rockland Circle. At the north end of the parking lot there is an egress-only gate, where vehicles can exit directly onto George Washington Boulevard. The lot is most frequently used during summer months, when the Town sees an influx of visitors to nearby Nantasket Beach. A private developer has proposed a 100-space parking lot to be located on the parcel adjacent to the DCR lot (see Appendix E for site plan). East of those parcels contains a condominium complex.


At the southeast corner of the intersection is a small parking area also owned by DCR. East of that parking area is an open parcel.


Figure 1
Study Area
Figure 1: Study Area
The study area is encircled in yellow on a satellite image of the intersection of George Washington Boulevard and Rockland Circle


An important connection between Hull and the neighboring community of Hingham to the south, George Washington Boulevard is a minor arterial under the jurisdiction of MassDOT. It is a four-lane roadway (two lanes in each direction) that connects with Hingham at the Cpl. A. Roger Borland Memorial Bridge over the Weir River. Traffic on George Washington Boulevard can get busy during peak hours between the months of October through May, but the roadway is significantly busier in the summer months. The section of George Washington Boulevard in the study area has a speed limit of 35 miles per hour (MPH).


Rockland Circle is a local road under the Town of Hull’s jurisdiction. It is a two-lane roadway (one lane in each direction) that splits into two legs about 300 feet east of the intersection. The northern leg ends at Park Avenue about 460 feet northeast of the split. The southern leg of Rockland Circle intersects Park Avenue about 515 feet east of the split. It then continues east to Nantasket Avenue, where it ends. The section of roadway between Park Avenue and Nantasket Avenue is known as Rockland House Road. Rockland Circle has a speed limit of 30 MPH.


The intersection of George Washington Boulevard at Rockland Circle is signalized. The signal has a semi-actuated operation. Southbound movements have an exclusive phase, followed by a shared phase with the northbound movements, and finally an exclusive phase for westbound movements The southbound approach on George Washington Boulevard widens from two lanes to three, to accommodate for the exclusive left-turn movement onto Rockland Circle. The other two lanes are for through movements only. The northbound approach maintains two lanes—one for through movements and one for through and right-turn movements. The westbound approach maintains one lane for all movements (left and right turns). There are no crosswalks or pedestrian signals at the study intersection. Alert pedestrians can cross concurrently with green phases, an allowed pedestrian activity.


The MBTA contracts with Joseph’s Transportation to operate bus service in Hull. This service is advertised as bus Route 714, the 700-route series indicating that the service is provided by a private bus operator.


There are 14 weekday bus operations in each direction between Hingham Center and Point Pemberton at the end of the Hull’s peninsula. At Hingham Center bus 714 connects with the more frequent MBTA bus Route 220, which provides service on Route 3A through Weymouth to the Quincy Center Red Line station.


On the basic travel route, buses enter Hull on highway Route 228 and travel directly up the peninsula to Point Pemberton. Nine trips operate on this route on Saturdays and Sundays. However, only four inbound and six outbound weekday trips use the basic route in each direction. Instead, most of the weekday bus operations use one or more of three possible route variants:

Bus Route 714 is a flag stop service. Riders may signal drivers that they wish to be picked up or dropped off at any point along the route. Drivers will stop at or near requested locations if it is considered safe.


There is a five-foot-wide asphalt path along the southbound barrel of George Washington Boulevard between the curb and the guardrail. People walking along the northbound barrel north of Rockland Circle must either walk in the DCR parking lot or along a landscaped strip between the parking lot and the roadway. Aerial photos show wear in the grass on this strip suggesting some amount of use by pedestrians. Underbrush abuts the northbound barrel for much of the distance south of Rockland Circle. A six-and-a-half-foot sidewalk exists on the northern side of Rockland Circle between Park Avenue and the study intersection.


3          Issues and Concerns

Based on MPO staff’s field observations, discussions with town officers, and analyses of crash data and existing operations, major issues and concerns at the intersection include the following:

Currently there is no pedestrian phase nor are there crosswalks on any leg of the intersection.

There are no dedicated lanes or wide shoulders to accommodate people biking on either George Washington Boulevard or Rockland Circle.

Existing pedestrian infrastructure is inadequate, in poor condition, and does not meet ADA standards. Existing sidewalks along George Washington Boulevard and Rockland Circle range between five and six feet wide, which makes some portions too narrow and difficult to navigate.

All but one of the approaches of the intersection currently have basic three-section signals, with no backplates and no retroreflective borders. There is a four-section signal for the outside lane of the northbound approach for through-right movements. Vegetation behind this signal head might make it difficult to see in any season but winter. Signals for the westbound right and left movements and southbound through movements are mounted on a mast arm. All other signal heads are post-mounted.

The Town of Hull sees significant volumes of non-local traffic during the summer, mostly due to Nantasket Beach visitors. The number of people walking and biking at this intersection during those months also increases.

The parking lot operated by DCR poses issues for people walking across its wide ingress/egress apron on Rockland Circle. The egress at the northern end of the lot also poses issues. High speeds of people driving on George Washington Boulevard and those attempting to travel southbound after exiting the lot could create dangerous conditions

Town officials noted that there are drainage issues on George Washington Boulevard southbound, just south of the intersection. Specific design recommendations about stormwater mitigation are outside of the scope of this study but should be addressed in the design process should the Town move forward with pursuing a project at this location.


4          Crash Data Analysis

Crash data analysis is essential to identify safety and operational problems at an intersection. Analyzing data on the frequency of crashes, types and patterns of collisions, and the circumstances under which crashes occur, such as the time of day and roadway surface conditions, also helps to develop improvement strategies.


4.1      Crash Statistics

MPO staff used the most recent six-year crash reports (January 2015–December 2020) for this study. In total, there were 13 crashes in the recent five-year period in the study area.


The predominant crash types were rear-end crashes (six total) and single vehicle crashes (four total). The remaining three crashes were one sideswipe by a vehicle traveling in the same direction, one sideswipe by a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction, and one head-on collision. Table 1 summarizes the 13 crashes in terms of severity, collision type, pedestrian or bicycle involvement, time of the day, and weather and pavement conditions. Two crashes caused personal injuries with no fatalities.


Most of the crashes (nine) did not occur during peak travel periods (7:00 AM–10:00 AM and 3:00 PM–6:00 PM). This fact supports the observations that this intersection is not affected by daily peak-period traffic volumes. About a quarter of the collisions occurred during dark conditions. Street lighting at the intersection is minimal—there are two light posts at the intersection, and little streetlighting on George Washington Boulevard and Rockland Circle heading towards the intersection.




Table 1
Crash Data Summary Table
George Washington Boulevard at Rockland Circle, Town of Hull
Police Crash Reports 2015-20
Statistics Period   2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 6-Yr. Total Annual Avg.
Total number of crashes 3 3 3 1 2 1 13 2.2
Severity Property damage only 3 3 1 1 2 1 11 1.8
Non-fatal injury 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 0.3
Fatality 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
  Not reported/unknown 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
Collision type Single vehicle 1 1 1 1 0 0 4 0.7
Rear-end 2 1 1 0 1 1 6 1.0
Angle 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
Sideswipe, same direction 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0.2
Sideswipe, opposite direction 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0.2
Head-on 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0.2
Rear-to-rear 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
  Not reported/unknown 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
Involved pedestrian(s) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
Involved cyclist(s)   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
Occurred during weekday peak periods* 2 1 0 0 1 0 4 0.7
Wet or icy pavement conditions 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 0.5
Dark conditions (lit or unlit) 1 0 1 1 0 1 4 0.7
* Peak periods are defined as 7:00a–10:00a and 3:30p-6:30p.



4.2      Collision Diagram and Crash Pattern Analysis

Based on the police reports on crashes, staff constructed a collision diagram (Figure 2) that shows the locations and patterns of all the crashes at George Washington Boulevard and Rockland Circle.


Figure 2
Collision Diagram
Figure 2: Collision Diagram
This figure illustrates crashes between the years of 2015 and 2020 on an aerial image of the study area.


5          Existing Conditions Analysis

To examine the existing conditions, MPO staff requested MassDOT’s assistance in collecting Automatic Traffic Recorder (ATR) counts on the approaching roadways and intersection turning movement counts (TMCs) for this study.


The ATR counts were performed during the week of March 8-14, 2022. The TMCs were collected Thursday, March 12, 2022.


5.1      Daily Traffic Volumes

Based on the data, staff estimated the average weekday traffic volumes at roadway sections near the study intersections as follows:


5.2      Turning Movement Counts

MassDOT collected turning movement counts at the study intersections on Thursday, March 10, 2022, during the morning peak period (7:00 AM–10:00 AM) and the evening peak period (3:00 PM–6:00 PM), and on Saturday, March 12, 2022, during the midday peak period (10:00 AM–2:00 PM).


Due to the seasonal nature of traffic patterns in the study area, staff adjusted TMC data using a 2019 MassDOT seasonal adjustment factor of 0.95 for an urban (U4-U7) roadway.


Figure 3 summarizes the adjusted 2022 AM and PM peak-hour traffic turning volumes by approach at the study intersection.


Figure 3
Weekday Peak-Hour Traffic Volumes
Figure 3: Peak-Hour Volumes
The weekday morning and evening peak-hour volumes for each movement are shown on an aerial image of the study area.


5.3      Intersection Capacity Analysis

Based on the 2022 AM and PM peak-hour turning movements, staff conducted the intersection capacity analysis for the two study intersections by using the Synchro traffic analysis and simulation program.


Staff conducted traffic operations analyses consistent with the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) methodologies. HCM methodology demonstrates driving conditions at signalized and unsignalized intersections in terms of level-of- service (LOS) ratings from A through F. LOS A represents the best operating conditions (little to no delay), while LOS F represents the worst operating conditions (very long delay). LOS E represents operating conditions at capacity (limit of acceptable delay).


Table 2 summarizes the estimated LOS, average delay, and volume to capacity ratio (V/C) for all the approaches at the intersection in the AM and PM peak hours.  The estimation is based on a total cycle length of 95 seconds that consist of 70 seconds total for both George Washington Boulevard approaches, including 24-second exclusive southbound left-turn movement. The remaining 25 seconds are used for the Rockland Circle approach split (20-second green, plus 3-second yellow and 2-second all-red).



Table 2
Summary of Intersection Capacity Analyses
Adjusted 2022 AM and PM Peak-Hour Traffic Conditions

Analysis Period














George Washington Boulevard northbound







George Washington Boulevard southbound







Rockland Circle westbound







Intersection Average







Notes: All movements share a single lane on all approaches.

AM Peak Hour = 7:30 AM–-8:30 AM. PM Peak Hour = 3:45 PM–4:45 PM.

Delay = Average delay per vehicle (seconds).

LOS = Level of service. V/C = Volume-to-capacity ratio.


6          Proposed Short-term Improvements

Based on the above analyses, MPO staff developed a series of short- and long-term improvements to address safety and operational problems at the intersections. The proposed short-term improvements generally can be implemented within two years at a relatively low cost (usually less than $30,000). The proposed short-term improvements are summarized below, from the lowest to the highest cost:



7          Long-term Improvement Alternatives

Long-term improvements would require intensive planning and design and more significant funding. Based on the goals of maximizing safety and operational benefits for all transportation modes and minimizing construction impacts, staff assessed two alternatives.


Staff also analyzed traffic operations for the alternatives and the base case (no-build scenario) under the projected 2030 traffic conditions. For comparison purposes, the analysis includes a future year no-build scenario that contains only signal retiming with no geometry modifications and no signal system upgrade.


Key elements of the no-build scenario and the two alternatives are summarized below.


7.1      No-Build Scenario

The no-build alternative assumes that the intersection would remain the same as the existing conditions. The only improvement included in this no-build scenario is to retime the signal.


7.2      Alternative One

Alternative One proposes to modify the intersection layout and upgrade the signal system for adding a protected pedestrian crossing. Figure 4 shows the conceptual plan of the alternative. Key elements of the alternative include the following:


7.3      Alternative Two

Alternative Two proposes to modify the intersection layout and control and remove the signal system. Two options are available in Alternative 2:


Figure 5 shows the conceptual plans of both options. Key elements of Options 1 and 2 include the following:


Appendix B contains Synchro intersection capacity analysis reports that detail input volumes, lane configurations, signal-timing settings, and analysis results of the 2030 AM and PM peak hour traffic conditions.


Figure 4
Proposed Long-Term Improvement Alternative One
Figure 4: Alternative 1Long-term Alternative 1 is illustrated on an aerial image of the study intersection. Important elements of the design include a crosswalk across the northern leg of George Washington and a new sidewalk along the northern side of Rockland Circle.


Figure 5
Proposed Long-Term Improvement Alternative Two: Option 1
Figure 5: Alternative 2, Option 1
Long-term Alternative 2, Option 1 is illustrated on an aerial image of the study intersection. In this design, the number of lanes on George Washington Boulevard is reduced from four to two. The intersection is stop-controlled. Important elements of the design include a crosswalk across the northern leg of George Washington and a new sidewalk along the northern side of Rockland Circle.


Figure 6
Proposed Long-Term Improvement Alternative Two: Option 2
Figure 6: Alternative 2, Option 2
Long-term Alternative 2, Option 2 is illustrated on an aerial image of the study intersection. This design shows a roundabout design to replace the three-leg intersection. The number of lanes on George Washington Boulevard is reduced from four to two. Important elements of the design include a crosswalk across the northern leg of George Washington and a new sidewalk along the northern side of Rockland Circle.


8          Resiliency Considerations

Hull is one of many Massachusetts coastal communities vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal flooding. Over the years, Hull has conducted several climate vulnerability and adaptations studies to learn more about the issues and help prevent and reduce damage to assets. George Washington Boulevard is one of the three routes that connect Hull to mainland Massachusetts and serves the town economically and for emergency evacuation purposes. The intersection of George Washington Boulevard and Rockland Circle are among the high-risk transportation infrastructure in Hull due to the many low-lying areas (elevations less than 10 feet NAVD88) on the corridor. A study conducted for Hull indicated that the roadway is at risk of flooding from waves overtopping the DCR seawalls and flowing over Nantasket Avenue.


Due to the threats from climate change and sea-level rise, MPO staff recommend that the long-term improvements be considered along with climate change resiliency efforts to preserve and protect investments. Such efforts should include a regional approach to the problems, comprising of South Shore communities and state agencies to address the resiliency of George Washington Boulevard and Rockland Circle. Some of the adaptation measures to be considered include but not limited to beach nourishment (green infrastructure), repairing sea walls, reinforcing bulkheads, revetments, and flood protection barriers.


9          Recommendations

This study performed a series of safety and operations analyses, identified issues and concerns, and proposed short- and long-term improvements at the intersection. The proposed short-term improvements would enhance safety and operations for the intersection under the existing conditions. These improvements should be implemented as soon as resources are available from highway maintenance or local Chapter 90 funding.


The assessed long-term improvements, such as installing sidewalks, crosswalks, and bicycle accommodations and renovating the signal system to include pedestrian signals, would significantly address the safety and operational problems at the intersection. Alternative Two allows for a shorter pedestrian crossing distance due to lane reductions and adjustments and provides a safe refuge for bicyclists on the 10 foot wide multi-use path.


Regardless of future intersection control, staff recommend that a multi-use path along George Washington Boulevard and accommodations for people to cross the roadway are included in any future design considerations, as it would greatly benefit connectivity between Hull and its neighbors, as well as provide safe access for non-driving residents and visitors.


The Town of Hull has jurisdiction of the intersection and roadways in the study area and is responsible for renovation of the intersection to improve safety, mobility, connectivity, and operations. George Washington Boulevard and its adjacent areas have the potential to better accommodate seasonal traffic volumes, as well as better serve pedestrian and bicycle travel through the town and surrounding destinations. Improving safety and operations at this intersection is one essential component in successfully developing the Nantasket Beach area and the Town of Hull into a destination accessible by all modes of transportation.


This study gives the Town of Hull an opportunity to address the needs of users of the intersection and to plan for design and engineering. The next steps would be to further assess this intersection and advance the project through the planning process. These steps will depend upon cooperation among MassDOT, the Town of Hull, and the MPO. The first steps are for the Town of Hull staff to engage in MassDOT’s project notification and review process and complete a project initiation form. After completing the initial steps, the Town and MassDOT can start preliminary design and engineering to place the project in the MPO’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Should the project receive TIP funding, Intersection Control Evaluation (ICE) would be required prior to preliminary design work. 2


Project development is a process that takes transportation improvements from concept to construction and is influenced by factors such as financial limitations and agency programmatic commitments. (See Appendix D for an overview of this process.)


This study supports the MPO’s visions and goals, which include increasing transportation safety, maintaining the transportation system, advancing mobility and access, reducing congestion, and expanding the opportunities for walking and bicycling, while making these activities safer. If implemented, the improvements proposed in this report would modernize the roadway and significantly improve safety and mobility of all users.


1 Based on feedback from MassDOT, a signal warrant analysis was conducted for the intersection, and none of the warrants were met. The signal warrant analysis can be found in Appendix F.

2 More information about the ICE procedure can be found here:



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E

Appendix F

Appendix G

The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) operates its programs, services, and activities in compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, and related statutes and regulations. Title VI prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programs and requires that no person in the United States of America shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin (including limited English proficiency), be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives federal assistance. Related federal nondiscrimination laws administered by the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, or both, prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, sex, and disability. The Boston Region MPO considers these protected populations in its Title VI Programs, consistent with federal interpretation and administration. In addition, the Boston Region MPO provides meaningful access to its programs, services, and activities to individuals with limited English proficiency, in compliance with U.S. Department of Transportation policy and guidance on federal Executive Order 13166.

The Boston Region MPO also complies with the Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law, M.G.L. c 272 sections 92a, 98, 98a, which prohibits making any distinction, discrimination, or restriction in admission to, or treatment in a place of public accommodation based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, or ancestry. Likewise, the Boston Region MPO complies with the Governor's Executive Order 526, section 4, which requires that all programs, activities, and services provided, performed, licensed, chartered, funded, regulated, or contracted for by the state shall be conducted without unlawful discrimination based on race, color, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, creed, ancestry, national origin, disability, veteran's status (including Vietnam-era veterans), or background.

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