Interstate 95, East Coast's Main Street, forms an important corridor through eastern Massachusetts. The freeway joins the city of Boston with Providence, Rhode Island to the southwest and Portland, Maine to the northeast. While never actually entering the city of Boston, the freeway provides for commuter movements to the north, west, and south suburbs in conjunction with Interstate 90, Interstate 93 and U.S. 1.

Boston area - 1971
The planned path for Interstate 95 in Massachusetts took the highway northeast along the Southwest Expressway from Norwood and Dedham into the south side of Boston, converging with the existing Central Artery freeway south of Interstate 90. North from there Interstate 95 was to travel across the Tobin Bridge to the Northeast Expressway toward Peabody. Due to bitter neighborhood opposition, especially from the creation of the original Fitzgerald Expressway (Interstate 93), all of planned Interstate 95 outside of the preexisting U.S. 1 sections of freeway were canceled by 1973. The resulting relocation sent Interstate 95 onto the Massachusetts 128 beltway, leaving I-93 to utilize the Central Artery and Southeast Expressway southward to the Massachusetts 3 freeway (Pilgrims Highway) and southernmost leg of Massachusetts 128.

Construction for Interstate 95 in Massachusetts started with the 20.8-mile portion north from Exit 50 (U.S. 1) toward the New Hampshire state line. This six-lane segment opened to traffic in 1954 as part of a realigned U.S. 1. The stretch was modernized between 1967 and 1977. This left a 4.5-mile gap of Interstate grade freeway between Massachusetts 128 at Peabody and U.S. 1 at Danvers. Initially work extended the freeway south to Exit 46, U.S. 1 in Peabody, between 1969 and 1975. The final 1.5-mile connection with MA 128 was delayed until completion in 1988.1

South of Massachusetts 128 (Yankee Division Highway), Interstate 95 opened in stages between Rhode Island and Canton with construction starting in 1959 on the 11.6-mile segment between the state line and Massachusetts 140 (Exit 7). That stretch opened in 1963, followed by the 7.0-mile portion from Exit 7 to U.S. 1 (Exit 9) in 1964. Completion northward to MA 128 occurred in 1966.2

Through Boston, I-95 was planned to run on the following routes:

  • The unconstructed Southwest Expressway - canceled in 19722
  • The Central Artery / Fitzgerald Expressway - renumbered as a southward extension of I-93 in 1973
  • The Northeast Expressway - numbered as I-95 until 1973, and as U.S. 1 in 19763

Cancellation of the Southwest Expressway and the unbuilt portion of the Northeast Expressway between Revere and Peabody led to I-95 shifting west from through Boston onto the Circumferential Highway (Massachusetts 128) in 1973. The beltway saw initial construction between 1936 and 1941 in areas south and north of Boston. Also known as the Yankee Division Highway, Massachusetts 128 work continued in 1948 with completion of the route west of U.S. 1 in 1951.4

Although the 1971 Massachusetts Highway map showed construction along I-95 between U.S. 1 at Revere and the Saugus River, only initial earthwork was completed on this stretch of freeway.3 Some ghost ramps remain in place today for this route at the rotary interchange between U.S. 1 and Massachusetts 60 in Revere.

Interstate 95 Massachusetts Highway Guides

Interstate 95 scenes
Robert F. Toner Boulevard stems west from Massachusetts 152 (North Main Street) to Interstate 95 (Exit 5) ahead of Attleborough Falls. The four-lane boulevard links the freeway with Commonwealth Avenue west through North Attleborough. Photo taken 07/28/07.
A loop ramp carries motorists from Robert F. Toner Boulevard onto Interstate 95 south. Pawtucket and Providence, Rhode Island are the control cities for I-95 south beyond Attleboro. Photo taken 07/28/07.
Massachusetts 144 (Andover Street) sees back to back interchanges with both Interstate 95 and U.S. 1 (Newbury Street) in Danvers. Photo taken 07/28/07.
A trailblazer directs motorists westward along Massachusetts 114 beyond the full cloverleaf interchange with U.S. 1. The state route runs 22.45 miles from Marblehead to Lawrence. Photo taken 07/28/07.
U.S. 1 extends north from MA 114 along a commercialized stretch to cross paths with I-95 ahead of Topsfield. Photo taken 07/28/07.
The southbound ramp to Massachusetts 114 for I-95 departs for Boston and Waltham (U.S. 20). Photo taken 07/28/07.

Photo Credits:

07/28/07 by AARoads

Connect with:
Interstate 495
Massachusetts 24

Page Updated 01-27-2015.