About this Project
This study by FST addresses a 40-mile section of interstate through communities which typify two prevailing patterns of development. These are dense urban development, as in the mill cities of Lowell and Lawrence, and evolving low-density patterns of sprawl development, exemplified by Westford and portions of Tewksbury.
At the interchanges, impacts from local streets affect the mainline’s ability to facilitate through travel. I-495 is a benign neighbor until it cannot fulfill its role. The expanding demands for intra-regional and interstate travel and the average annual growth rate are beginning to overwhelm the ability of I-495’s design. Similarly, many interchanges show symptoms of failure.
The focus of FST’s study, moving high volumes of traffic through and within the Merrimack Valley efficiently and safely, is based on a sequential approach to programming improvements. FST is developing a Corridor Improvement Plan to identify specific improvements, including transit, that should be implemented over the next 10 to 15 years. It is anticipated that among these long-range actions will be the production of a series of National Environmental Policy Act and Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act documents that describe the implications of widening all or portions of the study corridor.
Owner: Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Location: Various Massachusetts Communities
Highlights: It is likely that, within 20 years, travel demands will justify a fourth lane. When that time arrives, the foundation for the improvement will be in place.