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Massachusetts Department of Transportation completed projects

MassDOT works to make transportation improvements in the Commonwealth. Projects include highway and bridge construction, rail and transit improvements, and aeronautics initiatives. The completed projects listed below continue to be of interest to the public.

Table of Contents

I-91 Viaduct Rehabilitation Project - 2019

The area around the I-91 Viaduct in Springfield was once a busy retail and residential center. In the 1940s, workers began moving to the suburbs. By the 1950s, U.S. Route 5 was overloaded with commuter traffic. In 1956, MassDOT began work on I-91, a new superhighway to give West Springfield, Agawam, Longmeadow, and East Longmeadow easy access to Springfield, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

An elevated viaduct carrying I-91 across the Connecticut River to Downtown Springfield was completed in 1970.  MassDOT renovated the viaduct in 2001, but a 2014 inspection recommended replacing the entire deck. Work began in May, 2015, and the project was completed in February 2019.

The completed I-91 viaduct is open and in use, with slightly wider shoulders, new lighting, and stormwater improvements to help protect local water quality.

The Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project - 2018

The Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project completed in 2018 upgraded the bridge’s structural capacity as well as multimodal access. 

The rehabilitation project added numerous multimodal benefits including eliminating a vehicular travel lane in the outbound direction, widening the sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and adding new MBTA Red Line track.

Located on the site of the 1793 West Boston Bridge, this steel and granite structure was completed in 1907, and renamed to honor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1927. The bridge was then extended in 1956 and rehabilitated in 1959. The historic bridge is a vital link between Boston and Cambridge, making important regional connections and contributing to the Charles River Basin Historic District.

The bridge today consists of eleven original open-spandrel steel arch spans. The bridge has an overall length of 2,135 feet, and a deck width of 105 feet, which includes a 27-foot fenced median occupied by the Red Line.

Demolition of the Massachusetts Turnpike toll plazas - 2017

In January, 2016, MassDOT began work to replace Massachusetts Turnpike toll plazas with an electronic toll system. The goals of the program included increasing safety by reducing stop-and-start traffic, relieving traffic congestion, and reducing greenhouse gases from idling cars.

The design called for 16 overhead gantries – framework arches straddling all lanes – to replace 24 existing toll plazas. Instead of stopping to pay a toll collector, drivers would simply pass under the gantry. Receivers on the gantries scan EZ Pass transponders (available free) and charge the toll to the driver’s online account. If a vehicle does not have a transponder, a camera records the license plate, and the toll system automatically sends a bill to the address of record.

In July, 2016, MassDOT installed the gantries, leaving the existing toll plazas in place, and began testing the electronic system. When the system was approved, MassDOT installed jersey barriers to guide traffic to the outer left and right lanes at each plaza in preparation for demolition of the center booths.

The electronic tolling system went live at 10 pm on October 28th; the following morning, MassDOT cut power to the plazas and began demolition of the tolling booths. During the construction, some traffic problems continued, but by the beginning of December, commuters reported a time saving of 12 minutes between Interstate 495 and South Boston.

Work to reconfigure the Sumner Tunnel toll plaza continued into the Fall of 2018.

Route 79/Braga Bridge Project - 2013

In 2013, Fall River was on the verge of a renaissance. Residents, business owners, and City officials wanted to visually reconnect Fall River with its historic waterfront, which had been hidden behind the steel ramps and elevated roadways of the Route 79/138 and I-195 Interchange since the 1960’s.

The construction of the Charles M. Braga Jr. Memorial Bridge began in 1959 by relocating City Hall and rerouting the Quequechan River and its falls into tunnels. Opened to the public in 1965, the interchange, an elevated two-level viaduct with a complex set of 11 bridges, came to be known locally as the “spaghetti ramps.” Over the years, the steel and concrete substructures deteriorated to the point of being constantly under repair.

The condition of the infrastructure, and the opportunity to improve access and enhance economic development, made the Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project an excellent candidate for the State’s Accelerated Bridge Program (ABP), a $3 billion effort to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges in Massachusetts. On June 19, 2013, the MassDOT Board of Directors approved a $197 million contract, and major construction began in the fall.

MassDOT and the project team worked with the community to manage vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian access, making sure to preserve traffic flow to local businesses as well as tourism and arts attractions.

Innovative Accelerated Bridge Construction techniques helped MassDOT reduce impacts and costs by shortening project duration. As a Design/Build project, the final design elements were completed in packages, allowing construction on critical elements to begin during the demolition of each section. Repair and painting work on the Braga Bridge continued throughout.

The ABC project design allowed MassDOT to reach Full Beneficial Use (all modes of travel are in their final configurations) for the Route 79/I-195 Interchange 76 days early and reach Substantial Completion for the entire project 200 days ahead of schedule.

Fast 14 - 2011

Between June and August, 2011, the I93 Rapid Bridge Replacement Project—better known as Fast 14 -- replaced fourteen Medford bridges in just ten weekends.

The 60-year-old bridges had deteriorated badly, but a traditional replacement project would have taken four years and caused ongoing traffic congestion. MassDOT completed the work quickly, safely, and economically with an inventive new project design.

Instead of working in the roadway, the Fast 14 team built new bridge sections off site. Each weekend, the team closed one bridge, removed old structures, lifted the new sections into place by crane, and connected them with a rapid-drying cement. By Monday, the new bridge was ready for the morning commute.

MassDOT completed this innovative, $98.1 million dollar project on budget and ahead of schedule. The Fast 14 project has received national attention and multiple awards:

  • 2012 AASHTO America's Transportation Award, Ahead of Schedule
  • 2012 AASHTO Subcommittee on Performance Management, Team Performance Excellence
  • 2012 AASHTO America's Transportation Award, Best Use of Innovation
  • 2012 ACEC Honor Award
  • 2012 ACEC, Massachusetts Chapter, Grand Conceptor Award for Design Excellence
  • 2012 CMAA Project Achievement Award
  • 2012 CMAA New England Project of the Year (projects less than $100M)
  • 2012 ENR Best Projects, Best Overall Project
  • 2012 Women in Transportation Seminar, Boston Chapter, Innovative Transportation Solutions Award

Accelerated Bridge Construction and Heavy Lift Projects - 2010 to 2014

MassDOT has used Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) and “heavy lift” methods as a means of rapidly constructing bridges by building major bridge components apart from or adjacent to their final location and installing them quickly using heavy lifting equipment such as cranes, gantry systems or self-propelled motorized transporters. During the work, heavy-lifting machines called Self-Propelled Modular Transporters lift the new superstructure from its supports to its final destination and lower it into position. ABC techniques minimize construction-related impacts (such as traffic congestion) by moving as much of the work out of the roadway as possible. Projects are completed in a matter of several days. Conventional staged construction methods would have resulted in a three and a half-year-long project with ongoing traffic disruptions.

Accelerated Bridge Construction and “heavy lift” methods were used to replace bridges in Boston, Phillipston and Wellesley.

  • Hyde Park Heavy Lift, River St. Bridge Replacement
  • Phillipston Heavy Lift Bridge Replacement
  • Wellesley Heavy Lift Cedar Street Bridge Replacement
  • Morton Street Bridge

Additional Resources

The Big Dig - 2003

Boston, Massachusetts had a world-class traffic problem called the Central Artery. One of the most congested highways in the United States, its elevated roadway carried upwards of 200,000 vehicles per day through downtown Boston.

The accident rate on the Central Artery was four times the national average. The annual cost to motorists -- including accidents, wasted fuel, and late deliveries -- was an estimated $500 million.

The solution was the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, a massive undertaking by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to replace the six-lane elevated highway with an underground expressway and extending I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) through a tunnel beneath South Boston and Boston Harbor to Logan Airport.

By 2003, Big Dig improvements were saving travelers around $168 million per year. The project reduced time spent on highways by 62 percent, and reduced citywide carbon monoxide levels by 12 percent. 

The Central Artery/Tunnel Project replaced congestion, smog, and honking horns with 30 acres of parks and plazas. Along the path of the old elevated highway, a new boulevard lined with close to 900 trees leads to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, completing Boston’s famed Emerald Necklace.

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