Unbuilt Highways in Massachusetts

themissinglink

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I've decided to create this new thread since there isn't a collective thread for unbuilt highways/roadways in Massachusetts, only one for unbuilt roads around metro Boston. If this thread belongs elsewhere on the forum, it would be much appreciated if the thread was moved to its rightful place by the mods.

I wanted to share these newspaper clippings that I discovered about the formerly proposed "Pittsfield Bypass", the controversial limited-access roadway which had been long-planned in the Pittsfield area. There were several different variations of the proposal; some included a connection with the existing Lenox Bypass while others did not. An alignment through the western part of the city was clearly favored over an eastern alignment, although neither was deemed acceptable (many houses would have been razed if the plan went forward) and the project was perpetually put on hold due to community opposition. The only part of the bypass to actually be constructed is Dan Fox Drive in Pittsfield, which was built in 1988 to provide a connection between US 7 and Pittsfield Municipal Airport.

I've heard that the bypass would have been designated as I-390 if the proposal was fully built out as a 4-lane expressway and connected to the Lenox bypass (which would have assumedly been upgraded to Interstate Highway standards and given a direct connection to the Pike). However I have not (yet) found a source to corroborate this rumor, so take the supposed I-390 designation with a grain of salt.

This snippet of the 1977 Pittsfield city report appeared in The Berkshire Eagle in June 1978, when the eastern alignment of the bypass was still in active consideration.
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This snippet from The Berkshire Eagle dated October 6, 1978 includes a precise description of the western alignment in Pittsfield, accompanied by two conceptual depictions of interchanges.
The_Berkshire_Eagle_Fri__Oct_6__1978_-1.jpg


This article appeared in The North Adams Transcript on October 27, 1987. It includes a map of the Pittsfield Bypass which notably lacks a connection with the Lenox Bypass, instead terminating at an interchange with US 7 in Pittsfield (at the current location of the Dan Fox Drive/US 7 intersection).
The_Transcript_Tue__Oct_27__1987_-1.jpg


This article in The Berkshire Eagle from October 30, 1994 discusses the history of the bypass plan, due to a nonbinding ballot referendum about the bypass. A map of several alternatives for a connection between the Mass Pike and the Lenox Bypass is shown; the connector would have terminated at US 7 or US 20 at the northern end and the Pike or MA 102 at the southern end.
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Charlie_mta

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The conventional wisdom is that a bypass highway sucks the life out of a city's core and promotes suburban sprawl. Greenfield has a bypass around it (Route 2 and I-91), but it's city core seems to be doing well. I think that's because the bypass is fairly short and has only one interchange. To protect the life of a city's core, there should be strict zoning to restrict development along the bypass.
 

Charlie_mta

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Speaking of unbuilt highways in Massachusetts but (mostly) outside the Boston metro area, the route 2 expressway from Cambridge to Greenfield is probably the biggest one. Back in the 60s, the State's vision was for a full expressway, at least two lanes in each direction, stretching from the Inner Belt Expressway in Cambridge, all the way through to I-91 in Greenfield. Bits and pieces were built, but the sections not built are: through Concord (Route 128/I-95 to Route 27), the section from just east of Erving to Turners Falls, the Northwest Expressway in Cambridge and Alewife, and the 4-laning of the existing 2-lane expressway around Athol and Orange. If all these had been built, that would have been quite the highway.
 

themissinglink

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Speaking of unbuilt highways in Massachusetts but (mostly) outside the Boston metro area, the route 2 expressway from Cambridge to Greenfield is probably the biggest one. Back in the 60s, the State's vision was for a full expressway, at least two lanes in each direction, stretching from the Inner Belt Expressway in Cambridge, all the way through to I-91 in Greenfield. Bits and pieces were built, but the sections not built are: through Concord (Route 128/I-95 to Route 27), the section from just east of Erving to Turners Falls, the Northwest Expressway in Cambridge and Alewife, and the 4-laning of the existing 2-lane expressway around Athol and Orange. If all these had been built, that would have been quite the highway.
The FEIS for the "Route 2 Relocation, Greenfield-Gill-Erving-Wendell-Orange" (from 1982) is available to be read for free on Google Books. Here's some of the previously considered alignments:


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It appears that community opposition to the highway in Erving is responsible for the project cancellation between Orange and Greenfield. A protest against the highway was mentioned in this newspaper snippet from October 1987, which is interestingly talking about the "Pittsfield Bypass" and Fred Salvucci's involvement. I typed out the relevant info from the snippet:

Much like the residents opposed to the Pittsfield Bypass, residents of Erving, Mass are upset by the proposed Route 2 issue. Earlier in the day, Mr. Salvucci spent time with Erving officials to try to find alternatives to the Route 2 problem. "It was not a fun day." said Mr. Salvucci, referring to the opposition of Erving residents on the proposed bypass. The new alternative design indicates that another Route 2 will be constructed alongside the existing Route 2, forcing many people to lose their homes and businesses. "There is a piece of Route 2 that is unsatisfactory. There is much curving, and we want improvement" said Mr. Salvucci. Some 1,000 people, almost the entire population of Erving, turned out Sunday to protest plans to run a state highway through the center of town. According to the Associated press, Erving Selectwoman Jean Smith told the cheering crowd, "We have gathered here today to make a statement - to tell Boston and the world that we will not lie down and be paved over." The demonstrators, carrying white baloons that bore a red slash through the letters LPA (low-profile alignment), blocked Route 2 for nearly 20 minutes and backed up traffic for more than three miles. Mr. Salvucci announced last week that the state selected the LPA plan for relocation of the heavily traveled two-lane state road through the city because federal environmental protection laws would stymie the alternative of running the road through Wendell State Forest. "The federal law is pretty clear on this" Mr. Salvucci told The Transcript. During the protest, a bulldozer bearing the name "Gov. Dukakis" was used to hoist a coffin with a black tombstone reading "Erving RIP 1836-1987." Gov. Dukakis, candidate for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination, supported construction of the 5.7 mile bypass through the forest during his first term in 1977.
The_Transcript_Tue__Oct_27__1987_-1.png
 

Charlie_mta

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The FEIS for the "Route 2 Relocation, Greenfield-Gill-Erving-Wendell-Orange" (from 1982) is available to be read for free on Google Books. Here's some of the previously considered alignments:


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It appears that community opposition to the highway in Erving is responsible for the project cancellation between Orange and Greenfield. A protest against the highway was mentioned in this newspaper snippet from October 1987, which is interestingly talking about the "Pittsfield Bypass" and Fred Salvucci's involvement. I typed out the relevant info from the snippet:



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Wow, that's quite a find. I'm always interested in that area because my dad's side of the family goes back about 220 years around there, and I spent a lot of my childhood in the Greenfield area. What's interesting is that if this highway had been proposed in the early 1960s, it probably would have been built, but by the late 60s and into the 70s and 80s, the local publics in Massachusetts had become much more vocal and engaged, plus the NEPA process put through under the Richard Nixon administration gave more traction to stakeholders opposing highway projects.
 

RandomWalk

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The book Don’t Blame Us talks about rise of contemporary Democratic politics through the prism of Metrowest Boston. In one chapter they talk about the plans to shove the Route 2 expressway through Concord. Are the planning documents for that available online?
 

Charlie_mta

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The book Don’t Blame Us talks about rise of contemporary Democratic politics through the prism of Metrowest Boston. In one chapter they talk about the plans to shove the Route 2 expressway through Concord. Are the planning documents for that available online?
The only planning document that I could find is this on Google Books. I remember seeing in the Cambridge public library around 1971 a really detailed document that showed 30% plans for the favored alternative, which would have been a full blown expressway through Lincoln, Concord, and Acton. Can't find that one now.
 

themissinglink

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I remember seeing in the Cambridge public library around 1971 a really detailed document that showed 30% plans for the favored alternative, which would have been a full blown expressway through Lincoln, Concord, and Acton. Can't find that one now.
I wonder if they still have a copy of that document, I'm really curious to see what it looked like.
 

RandomWalk

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Running the highway almost up to the Battle Road is a heck of a choice.
 

themissinglink

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This site was an obsession of mine 15 or so years ago.

bostonroads.com

It’s still functional but extremely slow to load. Describes a number of unbuilt highways across MA and RI. If you’re patient, worth checking out!
I discovered a lot through that site that I didn't know when I first visited it way back. It's definitely worth checking out for anyone who hasn't.
 

RandomWalk

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Not quite sure how they will do that without some Big Dig level engineering and expense, unless you just closed the crossings outright.

For example, the ORNAC intersection is very close to the Sudbury River crossing. An elevated viaduct would be the most straightforward approach, but it wouldn’t pass muster with the locals and possibly the EIS.
 

reno

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Five MPH EB in the morning, five MPH WB in evening for 1 to 1.5 miles either side of this roundabout, Barrett's Mill Rd. ,Commonwealth Ave., Rt 2A from Acton, Lowell Rd Concord all a mess. The Commonwealth owns 98% of the property around the roundabout and has been doing preliminary designs for decades, continually kick the can down the road.

I love the "improvements" they did there with bizarre lane markings and a huge new traffic camera that was promptly knocked down.
 

Stlin

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Five MPH EB in the morning, five MPH WB in evening for 1 to 1.5 miles either side of this roundabout, Barrett's Mill Rd. ,Commonwealth Ave., Rt 2A from Acton, Lowell Rd Concord all a mess. The Commonwealth owns 98% of the property around the roundabout and has been doing preliminary designs for decades, continually kick the can down the road.

I love the "improvements" they did there with bizarre lane markings and a huge new traffic camera that was promptly knocked down.
Those new markings in the Concord rotary definitely help with clarity and safety, if not congestion - annectodally, accidents have noticably declined.

Also, since we're discussing it: here were the 2 final alternatives from the 2008 effort, with Alternative 5 I think being preferred at the time - as I recall it got punted due to the financial crisis at the time, and it's still being punted now because it's not in the top crash interchanges. No matter how much I would appreciate it, frankly, MassDOT doesn't have the bandwidth for that many big interchange rebuilds - I swear the Allston I90 takes up the vast portion of their energy, and what's spare currently goes to the crash hot-spots, cape bridges and 495/90.

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Link to full ca. 2008 MassHighway presentation
 
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kingofsheeba

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Never say never - I do think the intersections will eventually get zapped one by one after the rotary is gone - they did rebuild Cosby corner after all.
I’ll even take it a step further and say that even the Commonwealth will somehow find a way zap all of the intersections between Memorial and Fresh Pond.
 

Charlie_mta

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I’ll even take it a step further and say that even the Commonwealth will somehow find a way zap all of the intersections between Memorial and Fresh Pond.
If they do that, then the intersection of Routes 2 and 16 at Alewife would need to be fixed as well. But I really don't see anything happening on Route 2 in Cambridge, including Alewife and all the way down to Memorial Drive. Cambridge NIMBYs are legendary and ferocious, like they were hatched in a lab.
 

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