Massachusetts Route 3

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Route 3 marker

Route 3
Route information
Maintained by MassDOT
Length55.7059 mi[1] (89.6500 km)
Major junctions
South end US 6 in Bourne
  US 44 in Plymouth
I‑93 / US 1 from Braintree to Boston
I‑90 / Mass Pike in Boston
North end US 3 / Route 2A in Cambridge[1]
CountiesBarnstable, Plymouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Middlesex
Highway system
US 3Route 3A

Route 3 is a southward continuation of U.S. Route 3, connecting Boston, Massachusetts with Cape Cod. All of it, except for the northernmost end in downtown Boston, is a Controlled-access highway.

The section from Boston to Braintree is also marked as Interstate 93 and U.S. Route 1 and is known in downtown Boston as the Central Artery, and south of downtown as the Southeast Expressway. In Braintree, I-93 and US 1 split to follow the Yankee Division Highway to Interstate 95, and Route 3 continues south on its own, as the Pilgrims Highway. This section extends to a junction with U.S. Route 6 in Sagamore, just before the Sagamore Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal where Route 3 originally ended at rotary. Replacement of this rotary with an elevated "flyover" interchange was completed in November 2006.

Because Route 3 and U.S. Route 3 are treated as the same route by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), mileposts increase continuously from Bourne to the New Hampshire border.

Route description[edit]

Route 3 can be said to have three segments; the Pilgrims Highway, its concurrency with Interstate 93, and its route after leaving I-93 in Boston.

Pilgrims Highway[edit]

Pilgrims Highway is the part of Route 3 that stretches from the intersection with US 6 in Bourne to the junction with Interstate 93 in Braintree.

Interstate 93[edit]

Route 3 runs concurrently with Interstate 93 and U.S. Route 1 from Exit 7 in Braintree to Exit 26 in Boston. See Interstate 93.

Downtown Boston (Central Artery)[edit]

While in Downtown Boston, Route 3 is concurrent with I-93 and US-1. Route 3 exits I-93 at Exit 26, passes through Leverett Circle, and runs for a short way along the Charles River to the Longfellow Bridge. On the Longfellow Bridge, the designation of the highway changes to U.S. Route 3, which continues into Boston’s northern suburbs and toward New Hampshire.


New England 6.svg

Route 3 began as a new designation for New England Highway 6 in 1927 when the U.S. Highway system was created and New England highway Route 3 was chosen to be US 6. The former NE 6 then took the route 3 number with U.S. Route 3 designated north of its intersection with U.S. Route 1 and Massachusetts Route 3 to the south. The route was basically a connected system of two-lane roadways up until the 1950s with the exception of Route 3's original path through Boston which paired it with US 1 on Park Drive, the Riverway and the Jamaicaway and then along its own path in Mattapan and Dorchester along the Arborway, Morton Street and Gallivan Boulevard.

A portion of the Pilgrims Highway in Plymouth

Before the road was rerouted, the road continued over the Cape Cod Canal via the Sagamore Bridge to the Bourne Rotary, to the south of the Bourne Bridge. This arrangement changed after 1951.

The Plimoth Plantation Highway, a two-lane expressway that connects Route 3 with Route 3A, was once signed as Route 3 before the southernmost portion of the freeway to Cape Cod was finished.

The first section of the Pilgrims Highway was built as a bypass of Plymouth in the early 1950s. The mid-1950s saw an extension of this bypass route south to the Sagamore Bridge and north to Kingston. The northern section of the highway was built next with a connection from Derby Street in Hingham to the Southeast Expressway opening in 1959. (Portions of this road run alongside the Old Colony Railroad's mainline, now used by the MBTA Old Colony Lines Commuter Rail, and the MBTA Red Line's Braintree Branch rapid transit.) Finally the last sections between Hingham and Duxbury were completed by 1963 when the Route 3 designation was moved onto the completed freeway. The former Route 3 highways became Route 3A in Quincy and from Kingston south, the remainder became Route 53. Route 3 was connected to the Southeast Expressway in Milton by using Granite Avenue as a link from Gallivan Boulevard. Until around 1965, the northern portion of the Pilgrims Highway, from current Exit 15 (Derby Street) in Hingham, was also signed as Route 128, which continued past the exit on surface streets to Hull. However, by 1966 the 128 designation was removed past its intersection with Route 3 in Braintree (and thus from the Pilgrims Highway entirely) and the surface portion became Massachusetts Route 228. Route 3 was then taken off its remaining pathway along surface streets in Boston and extended up the Southeast Expressway and Central Artery in 1971 to the Storrow Drive exit. The routing of Route 3 has changed little since that time.

A re-signing project from 2006 to 2009 changed exit 20 to exit 20A for I-93 south and exit 20B for I-93 north. In the process, the ramp carrying Route 3 to I-93 north was no longer signed as part of Route 3. Separate signs indicating Route 3's routing along I-93 were to be installed on exit sign support poles in 2011.[2]

The MassDOT is currently looking into the possibility, in a similar manner to what has been ongoing for a 14+ mile length of Route 128's southwest section, of widening Route 3 from I-93 to the Sagamore Bridge from four to six lanes (as has already been done within the US 44 road concurrency between exits 6 and 7 near Plymouth) with new bridges and new on- and off-ramps, and will include upgraded interchanges with new acceleration and deceleration lanes. The project is expected to cost $256 million.

Exit list[edit]

Route 3 was one of the freeways whose exits were once numbered with the "25 is 128" system, in which the Braintree Split was numbered "Exit 25" (due to it being the exit for Route 128), with numbers increasing away from Boston and decreasing toward Boston. Under the old system, the Sagamore Rotary was (on paper) "Exit 43." When the first 22 miles (35 km) of the highway were resurfaced in 1975-76, the new numbers were instituted in that section. The Braintree section wasn't resurfaced in 1978, leaving a two-year gap when half the highway was on the new system while the other half was on the old system. During that time, the exit to Route 14 was "Exit 11" northbound and "Exit 33" southbound. Exit numbers on Route 3 were to be changed to those based on highway mileposts under a MassDOT project due to start in 2016, but this project has been indefinitely postponed.[3][4]

CountyLocationmikmOld exitNew exitDestinationsNotes
BarnstableBourne0.00.0431B-C US 6 east to Route 6A – Sagamore, Hyannis, ProvincetownSigned as exits 1B (US 6) and 1C (Route 6A); continues east via Sagamore Bridge
0.30.48431A US 6 west / Scusset Beach Road – Buzzards Bay, FalmouthSite of former Sagamore Rotary
PlymouthPlymouth2.54.0422 Route 3A north (Herring Pond Road) – Cedarville, ManometSouthern terminus of Route 3A
7.111.4413Clark Road / Beaver Dam Road – Pine Hills
12.319.8404Plimoth Plantation Highway east – ManometSouthbound left exit and northbound entrance
12.720.4395 Long Pond Road / South Street – Plymouth CenterAccess to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital- Plymouth
14.523.3386 US 44 east (Samoset Street) – Plymouth Center, CarverSouthern terminus of concurrency with US 44; signed as exits 6A (east) and 6B (west) southbound
15.625.17 US 44 west – Taunton, Providence, RINorthern terminus of concurrency with US 44
Kingston16.927.2368Smith Lane – Rocky NookTo Independence Mall Way
17.828.6359 Route 3A – Kingston, North PlymouthTo Routes 80, 106, and 27
Duxbury19.431.23410 Route 3A to Route 53 – Kingston, South Duxbury
22.335.93311 Route 14 – Duxbury, Pembroke
Pembroke26.943.33212 Route 139 – Marshfield, Hanover
Hanover31.751.03113 Route 53 to Route 123 – Hanover, NorwellTo Hanover Mall Drive; former southern end of freeway before 1963
Rockland34.355.23014 Route 228 north – Hingham, RocklandSouthern terminus of Route 228
Hingham36.158.12915MA Route 53.svg Derby Street to Route 53  – Hingham, Weymouth, NorwellNorthbound signage for Route 53 was removed in 2009
NorfolkWeymouth38.161.32816 Route 18 – Weymouth, AbingtonSigned as exits 16A (north) and 16B (south) southbound
Braintree40.565.22717Union Street – Braintree, South Braintree
42.768.72618Washington Street – BraintreeSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
19 Burgin Parkway – Quincy Center, Quincy Adams StationSigned as exits 19/18 southbound
42.668.62520 I‑93 south / US 1 south to I‑95 – CantonSouthern terminus of concurrency with I-93 / US 1; Former Route 128
See I-93 exits 7-24
SuffolkBoston53.586.126 I‑93 north / US 1 north (Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge)Northern terminus of concurrency with I-93 / US 1; North end of freeway
54.187.1 Route 28 north – Leverett CircleSouthern terminus of concurrency with Route 28; interchange northbound and at-grade intersection southbound
54.487.5 Route 28 south (Storrow Drive) / Route 2 westInterchange; northern terminus of concurrency with Route 28
54.687.9Cambridge Street – Government Center, Massachusetts General HospitalAt-grade intersection
Charles RiverLongfellow Bridge
MiddlesexCambridge55.088.5Main Street west – Kendall SquarePartial interchange (southbound exit is via a left turn at Wadsworth Street)
55.389.0Land Boulevard to Expressways – CharlestownSouthbound exit and northbound entrance
55.689.5 Route 2A (Massachusetts Avenue / Harvard Bridge) – Cambridge, RoxburyRamps to Route 2A; Route 3 continues below grade
55.789.6 US 3 north (Memorial Drive) – Arlington, WinchesterContinuation west of Route 2A
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b Executive Office of Transportation, Office of Transportation Planning - 2005 Road Inventory Archived 2006-09-27 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Personal e-mail from Stephen Timmins, Mass. Highway Department Route 3 sign replacement project engineer, January 20, 2011
  3. ^ Commonwealth of Massachusetts | COMMBUYS, FAP# HSIP-002S(874)X Exit Signage Conversion to Milepost-Based Numbering System along Various Interstates, Routes and the Lowell Connector, Accessed 10/14/15.
  4. ^ Summary of latest information from [1], Accessed 1/18/17.
  • Pilgrims Highway (MA 3) on
  • 1952 Shell Oil Sectional Map No. 1, New England States
  • 1960 AAA Map of Southern New England
  • 1966 ESSO New England Map
  • 1971 ESSO Southern New England Map
  • Responses to post by Bob Malme on newsgroup ne.transportation titled "MA Roadtrip Observations" posted 6/28/07.

External links[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata