This 2000 photo shows the southbound I-95 approaching EXIT 7 (MA 140) and EXIT 6 (I-495) in Foxboro. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)
RELOCATED ROUTE 1 SOUTH OF BOSTON: In 1947, the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MassDPW) announced plans for a "Relocated US 1" that was to provide expressway service from Boston and its southern suburbs to the Providence area. The highway was to continue north of MA 128 (Yankee Division Highway-Circumferential Highway) as the Southwest Expressway, whose route plans were divulged in a 1948 MassDPW report. The "Relocated US 1," which was also included as part of a national network devised by the Federal Bureau of Public Roads (BPR), officially became part of I-95 in 1956.
DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION: Unlike the original construction of I-95 north of Boston, the construction of I-95 south of Boston reflected contemporary Interstate design. The MassDPW designed the highway with three 12-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction, emergency shoulders, and bridges built with 15½-foot clearances. To improve safety and enhance aesthetics, engineers incorporated a wide, wooded median into the design of I-95.
Construction of I-95 progressed as follows:
Beginning in 1959, the MassDPW began work along an 11.6-mile-long stretch from the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border north to EXIT 7 (MA 140) in Foxboro. This section was completed in 1963, coinciding with the completion of a section of I-95 (North-South Expressway) in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It also included the construction of two incomplete interchanges at EXIT 4 (I-295) in Attleboro and EXIT 6 (I-495) in Mansfield; the intersecting highways were completed years later.
In 1962, the MassDPW began construction of 7.0 miles of I-95 from EXIT 7 (MA 140) in Foxboro north to EXIT 9 (US 1) in Sharon. The section was completed two years later.
Work on the final I-95 section south of Boston to be completed began in 1963. The 7.8-mile-long section, which included the construction of a cloverleaf interchange at EXIT 12 (MA 128 / Yankee Division Highway) in Canton, opened to traffic in 1966.
The 26.4 miles of I-95 were completed at a cost of $35 million. At the intersection of I-95 and MA 128 in Canton, the MassDPW made provisions for a future extension of I-95 (Southwest Expressway) through South Boston. After the Southwest Expressway was canceled in 1972, the MassDPW rerouted I-95 around MA 128 to the north and west.
In 1977, five years after the I-95 extension through South Boston had been canceled, the MassDPW converted the existing cloverleaf interchange at EXIT 12 (MA 128 and I-93) in Canton into a "trumpet" interchange. The southbound I-93 cloverleaf loop ramp to southbound I-95 was replaced with a two-lane "trumpet" ramp.
CHANGES FOR INTERCHANGES: In November 2002, the MHD opened a new ramp from Dedham Street to southbound I-95 in Canton to ease congestion in the area of the MBTA Route 128 commuter rail station, and to accommodate the proposed relocation of the ramps at EXIT 13 (University Avenue) in Westwood. Local officials have petitioned the MHD to construct a ramp from Dedham Street to northbound I-95, but MHD maintains that such a project awaits long environmental reviews.
Further north, the MHD is in the early stages of environmental planning for the reconstruction of the I-95 (MA 128) / I-93 interchange in Canton. The proposed redesign calls for the construction of two-lane flyover ramps for northbound I-95 and southbound I-93, and reconstruction of the I-95 southbound ramp to accommodate two through traffic lanes. Additionally, as part of the MA 128 (I-95 and I-93) reconstruction project, the MHD plans to provide four through lanes in each direction for the mainline MA 128 (southbound I-95 to northbound I-93, and southbound I-93 to northbound I-95). Completion of this project is not scheduled until at least 2009.
COPING WITH CONGESTION: According to the Massachusetts Highway Department (MHD), I-95 carries approximately 100,000 vehicles per day (AADT) in the area of I-295 in Attleboro, approximately 80,000 vehicles per day in the area of I-495 in Mansfield, and 110,000 vehicles per day in the area of MA 128 in Canton.
Both the MHD and the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) expect traffic to continue to increase through 2020; this congestion is attributed to heavy through traffic between Providence and Boston. Despite this projection, neither agency recommends increasing capacity on I-95. Instead, state and local agencies advocate the construction of additional park-and-ride lots, and additional service on the MBTA Providence commuter rail line.
For the next five-year period, the SRPEDD recommends the construction of new ramps at EXIT 3 (MA 123) in Attleboro to accommodate traffic flows from a proposed 189-acre industrial park nearby, and the reconstruction of EXIT 5 (MA 152) in North Attleboro to ease congestion.
This 2001 photo shows the northbound I-95 approaching EXIT 3 (MA 123) and EXIT 4 (I-295) in Attleboro. (Photo by Douglas Kerr.)
MORE CHANGES FOR INTERCHANGES: In Attleboro, EXIT 4 on I-95 should be reconstructed to provide a two-lane right exit from southbound I-95 to southbound I-295, and a two-lane left exit from northbound I-295 to northbound I-95 (possibly as a flyover ramp). Provisions should also be made for a future Attleboro Connector.
In Mansfield, EXIT 6 (I-495 / Outer Circumferential Highway) should be reconstructed, either by constructing collector-distributor (C/D) roads on both I-95 and I-495, or by constructing a four-level stack interchange. The existing cloverleaf interchange, with its closely spaced ramps, is fast becoming a source of chronic congestion.
Finally, in Canton, the existing EXIT 12 (MA 128 and I-93 / Yankee Division Highway) should be converted from a "trumpet" interchange to a high-speed, "semi-directional-T" interchange. In this major interchange reconfiguration, the predominant movements should be changed from the former route of MA 128 to the current route of I-95. The new interchange setup would accommodate three through lanes of I-95 traffic in each direction, up from one lane in each direction in the current configuration.
SOURCES: Master Highway Plan for the Boston Metropolitan Area, Massachusetts Department of Public Works (1948); "A Report of Progress," Massachusetts Department of Public Works (1962); Recommended Highway and Transit Plan, Massachusetts Department of Public Works (1968); "The Massachusetts Highway Story (1949-1969)," Massachusetts Department of Public Works (1969); Boston Transportation Planning Review: Final Study Summary Report, Massachusetts Department of Public Works (1972); "New Canton Ramp to I-95 Is Set To Open" by Judith Forman, The Boston Globe (10/17/2002); Massachusetts Highway Department; Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District; John Cairns; Dan Moraseski; Paul O'Brien; Paul Schlichtman; Alexander Svirsky.
I-95 shield by Ralph Herman. Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.