List of numbered routes in Massachusetts

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MA Route 2.svgMA Route 31.svgMA Route 128.svg
Standard Route shields
System information
Notes: Routes are not always state-maintained, and not all state highways are Routes.
Highway names
Interstates: Route I-X or Route X
US Routes: Route US X or Route X
State: Route X
System links
  • Massachusetts State Highway Routes

In the U.S. state of Massachusetts, the highway division of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) assigns and marks a system of state-numbered routes. U.S. Highways and Interstate Highways are included in the system; the only overlaps are with the end-to-end U.S. Route 3 and Route 3 and the far-apart Interstate 295 and Route 295. A state highway in Massachusetts is a road maintained by the state, which may or may not have a number. Not all numbered routes are maintained or owned by the state.

History[edit]

The Massachusetts Highway Commission (MHC) was the first highway commission in the U.S., formed in 1893 in response to a commission of inquiry finding that over 90% of the public roads in the state were in poor condition.[1][2] The first state highway in Massachusetts was a 5305.17-foot (1617.02 m) section of Fitchburg Road (now Main Street, part of Route 119) in Ashby. The MHC laid it out as a state highway on August 15, 1894 from a point west of South Road to a point west of Route 31. The road was paved with 15–20 foot (4.5–6 m) macadam, with work beginning August 21, 1894 and ending July 15, 1895. The 50–66 foot (15–20 m) right-of-way is still owned by MassDOT under the original layout.[3][4]

Massachusetts first gained numbered routes in 1922, with the formation of the New England Interstate Highways. Three-digit numbers were reserved for shorter routes. Route 138 and Route 140 were designated by 1925, and by 1926 the numbers from Route 101 to Route 142 (except Route 136) had been assigned.

The establishment of the U.S. Highway System in 1926 resulted in several of the New England Interstate routes having to be renumbered. The New England Interstate routes that conflicted with new U.S. Highway numbers were assigned newly freed single-digit numbers. Beginning in 1929, local routes were assigned new two-digit numbers. With the exception of Route 143, which was renumbered from Route 109A ca. 1933, new routes were given two-digit numbers for a while. Larger three-digit numbers were eventually assigned.

Over the years, most of the state's highways were been maintained by a varied list of agencies, including the Massachusetts Highway Department, Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and the Massachusetts Port Authority, but are maintained by the consolidated MassDOT. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation's Bureau of Engineering still manages and/or operates a number of parkways across the Commonwealth.

All routes that end at a state border and continue as a numbered route on the other side have been renumbered on one side of the border to match. Except for Route 295, far from Interstate 295, numbers that were duplicated with Interstate Highways were renumbered, mostly in 1959 when the Interstate numbers were assigned.

  • The longest numbered highway in the state is U.S. Route 20, which runs for 153 miles (246 km).
  • The longest state highway is Route 28, which runs for 151.92 miles (244.49 km).
  • The longest Interstate highway in Massachusetts is Interstate 90 (the Mass Pike), which runs 138.1 miles (222.3 km).
  • The shortest route in Massachusetts is Route 15, which runs for only 0.23 miles (0.37 km). The shortest signed highway is Route 108, which runs for 0.92-mile (1.48 km). Both are short extensions of state highways in neighboring states. The shortest route completely within state borders is Route 240, which runs for 1-mile (1.6 km).
  • The shortest Interstate in Massachusetts is Interstate 295, which runs as a 4-mile (6.4 km) extension of I-295 in Rhode Island.

Signage practices[edit]

Shields for Interstate 93, U.S. 1 and Route 3

State routes[edit]

MA Route 10.svg

Massachusetts uses a simple design for its state route shields. Black numerals are displayed on a plain white shield, usually with a black border near the edge of the sign, although this differs from sign to sign, especially on highway overheads. Single- and double-digit state highway numbers are posted on standard square sign panels, while three-digit (and three- and four-character alternate such as 28A) numbers are displayed on elongated panels. State route shields on freeways, such as Route 24 and Route 128 have the same design, but are usually much larger in size for easier viewing at highway speeds.

Some older, erroneous signs have the sign in a white circle, and black on the outside, although occurrences of this are rare.

U.S. Routes[edit]

US 7.svg

Massachusetts uses the standard white-shield on black background design for its U.S. Routes, used in all states except for California. Signs for U.S. Routes on green highway signs generally omit the black background, but some older signs still have them. A number of signs installed on the U.S. Route 3 expressway are of a cut-out design, without the black background. U.S. Routes on freeways usually have extra-large sign panels posted.
NOTE: Alternates of U.S. routes in Massachusetts are signed as state highways (Routes 1A, 3A (northern), 6A, 7A, and 20A).

Interstate Highways[edit]

I-91.svg

Massachusetts uses standard Interstate highway shields without the state name on the shield, although a small number of very old signs do exist with the state name. Interstate shields are usually of the extra-large variety, with the exception of the Massachusetts Turnpike (Interstate 90), which uses standard shields.

Auxiliary routes[edit]

Massachusetts does not use auxiliary tabs for route signage, and as such contains no bypass or business routes. Massachusetts formerly had "city routes", which were signed C1, C9, C28, and C37, as city alignments of the respective state routes. All of these designations were decommissioned in the early 1970s. Since then, no route in Massachusetts has ever had more than one alternate, save for multiple sections of a single numbered route such as 1A, 2A or 3A. (a Route 3B existed in the 1920s but was renumbered to Route 38).

The Lowell Connector was technically the only "auxiliary" route in the state, having been formerly signed as Interstate 495 Business Spur in the 1960s.

Exit numbering[edit]

Massachusetts is one of the few U.S. states that still uses sequential exit numbering on its freeways. Exit numbers are posted on all of its Interstate Highways, as well as other major freeways in the state, including the freeway portions of Route 2, the Pilgrims Highway (part of Route 3), the Northwest Expressway (part of U.S. Route 3), Route 24, Route 25, Route 128, the southern portion of Route 140, Route 213, and most recently, Route 146.
There is currently a bill (H.3104) before the Massachusetts Legislature that would change to the mileage-based system used in other states.[5] Also, the state amendments to the 2009 national MUTCD, published in January 2012, states that Massachusetts will be changing all exit numbers to the mileage-based system "within the next five to ten years" (likely implying by 2022).[6]

Five freeways in Massachusetts contain irregular exit numbering patterns:

  • On Route 2, exit numbers start at 14 and increase to 43, with a gap in the freeway between Acton and Lexington. Exit numbering resumes at 52 and ends at 60.
  • The Northwest Expressway (US-3) is the one freeway in Massachusetts that still uses the "25 is 128" system. As such, its exit numbering scheme starts at 25 (at Route 128/I-95) and goes up to 36.
  • Route 128 has reversed exit numbering; that is, exit numbers increase going north-to-south. Exit numbers start at 29 and end at 10. There are no exits 1-9, there is no Exit 11, and Exit 27 was removed. Route 128 has always had this system; however most of its exit numbering was replaced by the standard south-to-north of I-93 and I-95 south of Peabody.
  • I-93 in Boston has gone under many exit numbering changes since the Big Dig project was completed, with many old interchanges being closed or reconfigured. Numbering on the Interstate goes from 1-48, but the following exit numbers no longer exist: 17, 19, 21, 22, and 25.
  • Numbering on the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) increases from 1-26; however, Exits 14 and 15 are the same exit, Exits 18 and 20 are the same exit, Exit 19 is a mainline toll plaza,and Exits 21 and 23 are onramps only.

Signage errors[edit]

Massachusetts is rather notorious for the placement of incorrect signage along its numbered highways. Some of these errors are due to outdated signage which have not been replaced since a realignment or truncation of a route, which can lead to confusion as to where a particular route goes. Lack of route signage in urban areas is a common problem.

One very common signage error, which occurs in many states, is the mis-signage of a U.S. highway as a state route (mostly on guide signs). This occurs in many places along U.S. Route 202, as well as on sections of U.S. Route 20 and in a few spots along U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 6 and U.S. Route 44. These are less confusing sign errors, as U.S. routes are part of the Massachusetts state highway system, and thus do not share numbers with other state routes (the one exception being U.S./MA Route 3, which connect end-to-end and are treated as the same route by the state).

A more unusual signage error occurred at the intersection of Route 10 and Route 141 in Easthampton in July 2005, in which Alabama state route markers were installed for the two routes. This error came from a contractor who mistakenly signed the route based on the design in the federal manual that showed an Alabama route marker.[7][8]

List of Routes[edit]

Numbered state highways[edit]

Former routes
New England Interstates

Unnumbered state roads[edit]

These are state roads which, for the most part, do not carry a numbered designation. They are generally short in length and serve important roles as main roads or connections between other main roads.

Name Length (mi) Location Notes
John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway 1.5 New Bedford The JFK Memorial Highway is a semi-limited-access highway running through the city of New Bedford, from Cove St. in the south to I-195 in the north at Exit 15. The section between U.S. Route 6 and I-195 carries the initial stretch of Route 18.
Leominster Connector 0.6 Leominster Leominster Connector is a short road connecting the I-190/Route 2 interchange in Leominster with Mechanic Street.
Leverett Connector 1.6 Boston The Leverett Connector is a bypass of the Central Artery from Interstate 93 north of Boston to Storrow Drive.
Lowell Connector 2.88 Chelmsford,
Lowell
The Lowell Connector is a freeway connection between the Northwest Expressway (US-3), I-495, and downtown Lowell.
The Connector carries the unsigned designation of I-495 Business Spur.
Plimoth Plantation Highway 2.04 Plymouth The Plimoth Plantation Highway is a connector between Routes 3 and 3A in Plymouth, also servicing Plimoth Plantation.
Prior to 1957, this highway carried the southern portion of Route 3.
Sandwich Road
(partly MA Route 6A.svg Route 6A)
5.1 Bourne Sandwich Road runs from the center of Bourne east to the Sandwich town line. East of the Sagamore Bridge, Sandwich Road carries Route 6A.
Soldiers Field Road 4.3 Boston Soldiers Field Road is a parkway, running from North Beacon Street (U.S. Route 20) in Brighton east to the Boston University Bridge (Route 2), where it continues as Storrow Drive.
Storrow Drive
(James Jackson Storrow Memorial Drive)
1.98 Boston Storrow Drive is a parkway, running from Soldiers Field Road at the Boston University Bridge (Route 2) eastward to an intersection with Embankment Road (Route 28) in downtown Boston.
Prior to 1989, U.S. Route 1 was routed along Storrow Drive.

Named numbered routes[edit]

These are named highways in the state which also carry numbered designations. Some are simply names of streets which carry a numbered route(s). Roads named after people/organizations were generally done so ceremoniously, after the numeric designation(s) already existed. Others carry more general names, such as the Southeast Expressway and Central Artery in Boston (which both refer to the same continuous span of I-93).
Several named highways cover the entire length of a given route in the state; for example, all of Interstate 90 in Massachusetts is the Massachusetts Turnpike, and the entire length of Route 213 is the Loop Connector.(*) denotes that the named highway spans the entire length of the numbered route in the state.

Name Route number(s) Length (mi) Location Notes
Alewife Brook Parkway MA Route 16.svg 2.05 Cambridge Runs from Concord Avenue to the Mystic Valley Parkway.
American Legion Highway MA Route 177.svg* Westport Runs through Tiverton, Rhode Island; Fall River, Massachusetts; Westport, Massachusetts
Amvets Memorial Highway
(Fall River Expressway)
MA Route 24.svg* 40.91 Fall River to Randolph Route 24 is a connector between the Fall River/New Bedford area east of Rhode Island to the Boston metropolitan area, connecting the major freeways of the area: I-195 in Fall River and I-93/US-1 near I-95 in Randolph.
- Route 79 runs along the highway between Exits 7 and 9, concurrent with Route 24.
- I-195 has a brief concurrency with Route 24 in Fall River.
Boston Post Road US 20.svg Marlborough to Weston Most of US-20 between Marlborough and Weston runs along the Boston Post Road.
Henry E. Bodurtha Highway MA Route 57.svg 5.0 Agawam Freeway comprises the eastern 5 miles (8.0 km) of Route 57, connecting Route 187 to U.S. Route 5 and I-91.
Boston-Worcester Turnpike MA Route 9.svg Worcester to Boston Route 9 between Worcester and Boston is mostly a divided full-access highway with traffic light-controlled intersections which serves as one of the main alternatives to the Massachusetts Turnpike. Many shopping centers, car dealers, full-service restaurants and businesses line the roadway on this stretch, especially in Framingham, such as Barnes & Noble, Marshalls, T.G.I. Fridays, Kohl's, Toys "R" Us, Best Buy, Olive Garden and Walmart. This stretch of the roadway is also encompassed in the Golden Triangle district of Massachusetts.
Central Artery
(John F. Fitzgerald Expressway)
I-93.svg
US 1.svg
MA Route 3.svg
3.18 Boston The Central Artery is the portion of I-93 in downtown Boston, which runs from Massachusetts Ave. (just south of Exit 20) north to U.S. Route 1's departure at Exit 27.
Route 3 leaves the Artery at Exit 26.
Commonwealth Avenue MA Route 30.svg
US 20.svg
MA Route 2.svg
Newton, Boston Stretches from Weston/Newton line to the Boston Public Garden.
East Boston Expressway MA Route 1A.svg 1.2 Boston The East Boston Expressway comprises the first 1.2 miles (1.9 km) of Route 1A's northern segment. It stretches from I-93 Exit 24 at the southern end of the Callahan Tunnel (northbound) and the Sumner Tunnel (southbound) to just northeast of the interchange with Route 145 in East Boston, near the eastern end of the Mass Pike.
Grand Army of the Republic Highway US 6.svg* 117.46 Seekonk to Provincetown The cross-country U.S. Route 6 is designated Grand Army of the Republic Highway over its entire length, which spans 3,205 miles (5,158 km).
Horseneck Beach Connector MA Route 88.svg* 13.03 Westport Route 88 serves as a connector running from the Horseneck Beach Reservation north to I-195 Exit 10 in Westport.
Loop Connector MA Route 213.svg* 3.56 Methuen Route 213 is designated "Loop Connector." It serves as a freeway connection between Interstates 93 and 495 in Methuen.
Lydia Taft Highway MA Route 146A.svg* 3 Uxbridge Route 146A in Massachusetts is designated as the Lydia Taft Highway, which runs from the Rhode Island state border to Route 122 in Uxbridge.
Massachusetts Turnpike I-90.svg* 138.1 West Stockbridge
to Boston
The Mass Pike is a toll road running from the New York state border to downtown Boston. It serves as the main cross-state freeway connecting the western and eastern portions of the state. The "Pike" carries the easternmost 138 miles (222 km) of cross-country Interstate 90.
Memorial Drive MA Route 2.svg
MA Route 3.svg
US 3.svg
4.12 Cambridge U.S. Route 3 and MA Route 3 connect to each other on Memorial Drive, which runs from the Fresh Pond Parkway to Main Street.
Route 2 travels along Memorial Drive with US-3 and leaves via the Boston University Bridge.
Mid-Cape Highway US 6.svg 36.6 Bourne to Orleans The Mid-Cape Highway is the main highway on Cape Cod, a 36-mile (58 km) long freeway running from Route 3 and the Sagamore Bridge east to the Orleans Rotary.
Mohawk Trail MA Route 2.svg 65 Williamstown
to Orange
The 65-mile (105 km) Mohawk Trail comprises the western section of Route 2, from the New York border east to Orange, and is regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the area.
Mystic Valley Parkway MA Route 16.svg Arlington,
Medford,
Winchester
Runs from the Alewife Brook Parkway to the Revere Beach Parkway.
Northeast Expressway US 1.svg* 4.1 Boston,
Chelsea,
Revere
This section of U.S. Route 1 runs from I-93 Exit 27 (Tobin Bridge) to an interchange with Route 60 in Revere. This was originally supposed to be part of I-95, but I-95 was cancelled in Boston, with I-93 and US-1 taking its place.
Northwest Expressway US 3.svg 21.1 Burlington to Tyngsborough The Northwest Expressway serves as a freeway connection between I-95/Route 128 (Exit 32A) in Burlington and the F.E. Everett Turnpike in Nashua, NH.
Pilgrims Highway MA Route 3.svg 42.5 Bourne to Braintree The Pilgrims Highway is the southern portion of Route 3, a 42-mile (68 km) long freeway which serves as a connector between Cape Cod (via U.S. Route 6) and the Boston metropolitan area (via I-93 and I-95).
- U.S. Route 44 runs along the highway between Exits 6 and 7.
Southeast Expressway I-93.svg
US 1.svg
MA Route 3.svg
Braintree to Boston The Southeast Expressway is the section of I-93 between the Route 3 split (Exit 7) and the Mass Ave. interchange (Exit 18), where it continues into Boston as the Central Artery.
Southern Artery MA Route 3A.svg
MA Route 53.svg
2.13 Quincy The Southern Artery is a major arterial in the city of Quincy, running from Quincy Ave to the Furnace Brook Parkway.
Taunton-New Bedford Expressway
(Alfred M. Bessette Memorial Highway)
MA Route 140.svg 19.3 New Bedford to Taunton The New Bedford Expressway comprises the southern 19 miles (31 km) of Route 140, and serves as a freeway connection between U.S. Route 6 in New Bedford and Route 24 (Exit 12) in Taunton, near I-495.
Ted Williams Highway MA Route 9.svg Framingham Route 9 in Framingham is named the Ted Williams Highway, in commemoration of late Boston Red Sox Hall-of-Famer Ted Williams who wore the number 9 on his jersey.
Wilbur Cross Highway I-84.svg* 8.0 Sturbridge I-84 in Massachusetts is designated the Wilbur Cross Highway. It runs 8 miles (13 km) from the Connecticut state border to the Mass Pike at Exit 9.
Worcester-Providence Turnpike MA Route 146.svg* 20.99 Millville to Worcester Route 146 is a freeway that, along with Rhode Island's Route 146, serves to connect the metropolitan areas of Providence and Worcester. The entire route starts from I-95 in Providence, with the Massachusetts section picking up at the state line in Millville. The highway runs 21 miles (34 km) northward, intersecting the Mass Pike (I-90) in Worcester, and terminating at I-290 shortly thereafter.
- Route 122A runs along the highway between Exits 9 and 12, concurrently with Route 146.
Yankee Division Highway
(Circumferential Highway)
MA Route 128.svg*
I-95.svg
US 1.svg
I-93.svg
64.74 Braintree to Gloucester The Yankee Division Highway consists of the Route 128 beltway before it was truncated to its southern terminus in Canton, and continues to span its entire length. It stretches from I-93's Exit 7 in Braintree to Route 128's northern terminus at Route 127A in Gloucester.
- I-95 runs along the highway between Exits 12 and 45 (concurrent with 128).
- I-93 runs along the highway between Exits 1 and 7.
- U.S. Route 1 runs along the highway between I-95 Exit 15B and I-93 Exit 7.

See also[edit]


References[edit]

External links[edit]

Road jurisdiction maps: