Route 28 in Somerville is classified as an "urban arterial" and "other freeway." It is known as McGrath Highway from its junction with Mystic Avenue/Interstate 93 in the north (beyond which it becomes the Fellsway) to the municipal boundary with Cambridge in the south (where it becomes Monsignor O'Brien Highway). When Route 28 was built, its primary purpose was to serve regional commuters traveling into Boston before the construction of I-93.
Ownership of Route 28 in Somerville and Cambridge was transferred from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to MassDOT's Highway Division as part of the consolidation efforts required by the 2009 transportation reform legislation
(Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2009 - An Act Modernizing the Transportation System of the Commonwealth).
McGrath Highway north of Medford Street/Highland Avenue is primarily at-grade, with the exception of a short bridge over the MBTA's Lowell Line and the future Green Line Extension
, and a short tunnel under the I-93 ramps. South of Medford Street/Highland Avenue to Somerville Avenue, it is primarily on an elevated structure. This elevated stretch of Route 28 is known as the McCarthy Overpass, and its primary purpose is to grade-separate Route 28 (McGrath Highway) from Washington Street.
The McCarthy Overpass is in poor condition and will need significant reconstruction in the coming years. Restoring this elevated structure will require significant concrete work, steel repair and deck reconstruction. The size of the potential investment and future long-term maintenance makes this a good time to evaluate the feasibility, benefits, impacts, and costs of removing at least a portion of the elevated structure.
McGrath Highway carries a high volume of both local and regional traffic, but it also creates a significant barrier between Somerville neighborhoods and the Inner Belt and Brickbottom areas on its east side, and the rest of Somerville on its west side. The City of Somerville has expressed a desire to modify McGrath Highway from its current "other freeway" classification to a street more like a boulevard by de-elevating the McCarthy Overpass. The City believes this change would facilitate east-west movement by current Somerville residents and visitors, reconnect bisected neighborhoods, and also create a more attractive environment for redevelopment along the corridor.
As part of this study, MassDOT is examining the benefits and impacts that would result from any changes to McGrath Highway on the corridor and other area roadways. The study will also identify opportunities for new development parcels and/or park space, as well as ways to improve multimodal access for the region and adjacent neighborhoods. The study will recommend short, medium, and long-term improvement suggestions for the corridor.