Massachusetts Turnpike

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Massachusetts Turnpike logo. The original logo depicted Paul Revere on horseback with the words "Massachusetts Turnpike" in a circle around him. Sometime in the late 1950's, the logo was changed to a Pilgrim hat and Indian arrow, commemorating the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620. The logo was later streamlined to a simple black Pilgrim hat during the late 1990s.
Missing image
The original Masspike pilgrim hat, on a shield for the Sumner Tunnel.

The Massachusetts Turnpike (Masspike) is the 138-mile long stretch of Interstate 90, which spans Massachusetts from West Stockbridge on the New York border to Logan International Airport in East Boston, and on to Route 1A. The Massachusetts Turnpike is generally known as the "Mass Pike."



The Masspike is a toll road; it costs $4.60 to travel from Exit 6 in Chicopee(exit called Springfield) to Logan Airport. No toll is charged for passenger vehicle travel between Chicopee and the New York border. Tolls are collected at toll plazas on the offramps, between West Stockbridge and Route 128; east of Route 128, the toll plazas are on the road proper. Motorists can opt to obtain change from a toll booth operator or utilize the Fast Lane electronic toll collection system, whereby motorists install transponders on their car windshields and use special lanes at the toll plazas that recognize the transponders and automatically withdraw the toll amount from the motorist's account.

The return trip from Logan Airport costs $3 more, since the Ted Williams Tunnel has a toll in the Westbound direction.


Massachusetts uses a system of sequential numbering for the exits on the Pike. Since the time that the exits were originally numbered, more have been added, leading to situations like Exit 11, which is a minor state route, and 11A, which is a major Interstate 10 miles away.

Also, near Boston, some of the "exits" are actually solely onramps and are not signed as exits, so there is no "Exit 21" signed.

Exit Number Location Mileage Notes
1 West Stockbridge (Route 41 to Route 102) 0 Entry from the New York Thruway and westbound exit/eastbound entrance, with barrier toll to the east
2 Lee (US 20/Route 102) 7.7 Prime Outlets
3 Westfield (US 202/Route 10) 29.8
4 West Springfield (I-91/US 5) 5.3
5 Chicopee (Route 33) 3.3
6 Springfield (I-291) 2.3 Stoplight intersection to I-291
7 Ludlow (Route 33) 3.6
8 Palmer (Route 32) 7.9
9 Sturbridge (I-84/US 20) 15.7 Formerly I-86
10 Auburn/Worcester (I-290/I-395/Route 12) 11.7
10A Worcester (Route 146/US 20/Route 122A) 3.9 Worcester-Providence Turnpike to Providence
11 Millbury/Worcester (Route 122) 2.4
11A Westborough (I-495) 9.7
12 Framingham (Route 9) 5.2 Home of Staples and Bose
13 Natick (Route 30) 5.4 Shoppers World
14/15 Weston (Route 128/I-95/Route 30) 6.5 Barrier toll plaza; exit 14 is the west-pointing ramps and exit 15 is the mainline toll and east-pointing ramps
16 West Newton (Route 16) 1.9 Westbound exit/eastbound entrance; ramp tolls have been closed
17 Newton Corner 2.5
All interchanges east of here are in Boston.
18 Allston/Brighton 3.2 One barrier toll with three different exit numbers (18 for the west-pointing ramps, 19 for the mainline toll, 20 for the east-pointing ramps)
19 Beacon Park
20 Brighton/Cambridge
21 Massachusetts Avenue 2 Westbound entrance only, exit number not marked
22 Copley/Prudential 0.5 Eastbound exit/westbound entrance
22A Clarendon Street (Route 28) 0.5 Westbound entrance only, exit number not marked
23 Arlington Street 0.5 Westbound entrance only, exit number not marked
24 South Station (I-93/US 1/Route 3) 0.7
25 South Boston 0.7 After the Fort Point Channel Tunnel
26 Logan Airport/Ted Williams Tunnel 1 $3 toll westbound through the tunnel
(merges with Route 1A) .5 End of I-90


As early as 1948, the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MassDPW) proposed a controlled-access road to link downtown Boston with its rapidly growing western suburbs. Eventually, this "Western Expressway" was to be the Interstate highway continuing along the US 20 corridor to Worcester, Springfield, and points west. Under the original plan, the Western Expressway, a 7.7-mile-long freeway, was to begin at the unbuilt I-695 and pass through Cambridge, Boston, and Watertown before finally terminating in Newton.

At this time, Boston's economic state was in question as the decline of rail and sea freight, and the lack of modern highway access, effectively cut the city off from the economy. Many, including MassDPW's commissioner, William F. Callahan, saw the expressway as an opportunity to create an "economic lifeline" for Boston. Many state lawmakers liked the idea of a modern east-west highway link, but the state's precarious economic position, aggravated by its heavy debt load, precluded more traditional means of financing the project.

In 1952, Callahan proposed the creation of a new authority to oversee the construction and management of the proposed turnpike. Originally named the Boston-Springfield Highway Authority, it was renamed the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority when legislation was introduced for the turnpike's creation in the State House.

Construction of the initial section of the turnpike from West Stockbridge to Weston began in 1955, with this section opening in 1957 at a cost of $257 million. While an extension of the turnpike to Boston had been planned since its inception, the poor viability of the first stretch, coupled with other factors, namely the purchase of the Back Bay rail yard by Prudential Insurance Company (which was right in the path of the proposed turnpike extension to the Central Artery) and the signing of the Federal Highway Act in 1956, which granted states the ability to construct new highways while only paying 10 percent of the cost, put a stop to the extension plans, at least temporarily.

The sale of bonds in the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority helped fund the Boston Extension, as it became known, and in 1962, ground was broken on the new extension. In September of 1964, the Boston Extension was completed east to Exit 18 (Allston-Brighton-Cambridge). The entire 135-mile length of the Mass Pike opened to traffic on February 18, 1965 with the completion of the Prudential Tunnel (tunnelled beneath the Prudential property) and the interchange with the Central Artery.

In 2003, the Big Dig extended the Massachusetts Turnpike from the Central Artery through the Fort Point Channel Tunnel and Ted Williams Tunnel to Logan Airport and Route 1A.

The Mass Pike in song and popular culture

"Now the first of December was covered with snow
And so was the Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Though the Berkshires seemed dreamlike on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me, and ten thousand more to go."
No matter where the song is played, some people in the audience always cheer in recognition when these lines are sung.
  • Kansas City's group The Get Up Kids featured a song titled Mass Pike on their 1999 EP Red Letter Day.

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