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Beyond Boston Study

There are 15 regional transit authorities (RTAs) operating in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, not including the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. These agencies serve a total of 262 communities and provide over 29 million trips annually. The combination of a constrained fiscal environment and an evolving market for transit services means that it has become increasingly important that limited resources available for RTAs are used as effectively as possible. The Beyond Boston Study inventoried the strengths and weaknesses of how MassDOT and RTAs deliver public transportation services in Massachusetts. Ten initiatives were selected which aimed to improve service and better determine service needs, improve efficiency and the use of funds, and improve collaboration. Moving forward these initiatives will support a more robust transit network that better meets the needs of the Commonwealth’s residents, workers and visitors. For more information please download the Final Report documents below.

Ethanol Safety Study

As required by state law, in 2013 MassDOT completed an analysis of the potential safety impacts of ethanol transport by rail through the cities of Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, and Somerville. The Ethanol Safety Study was carried out in response to a proposal by the terminal operator Global Petroleum to have ethanol delivered by rail to its facility on the Revere - East Boston line on the East Boston Branch. The report found a number of factors which mitigate the potential safety impacts of the proposal, such as: existing federal regulations that address both safety and security in order to transport or store ethanol and the low number of railroad accidents due to the legislation in place; MBTA maintenance of tracks within the study area which is to a higher standard (Class 3) than most freight railroad systems; and emergency planning in place at the state and local level specifically targeting issues involved with large-volume ethanol incidents.

The report identified that the rail routes in the study area are unusual in terms of their density of nearby residents, joint public/private use of the rail assets, and adjacent industrial businesses that may also house hazardous materials on-site. The report also identified a number of public safety factors that need to be addressed. Because railroad operations are pre-empted from any state and local laws that seek to govern their operation, the recommendations were phrased as a series of suggested steps, not a set of required actions. For more information please download the Final Report.

Grand Junction Transportation Feasibility Study

Completed in 2012, the Grand Junction Transportation Feasibility Study evaluated the potential for MBTA Commuter Rail service along the Grand Junction Railroad, which provides the only direct connection between Boston's North and South Stations through Brighton, Cambridge, and Somerville. Rerouting additional MBTA Framingham/Worcester Line trains via the Grand Junction to North Station would allow for new connections and destinations and help reduce congestion at South Station. This study assessed the feasibility, benefits, and impacts of this idea by developing potential future service plans and testing the ridership effects of changes in frequency, travel speed, and for new station construction in Kendall Square. Based on the study’s findings, MassDOT determined that the greater density of trip demand in the Back Bay and Financial District makes the existing route to South Station more desirable for the majority of travelers on the Framingham/Worcester Line, and the agency does not intend to pursue a Grand Junction proposal. For more information please download the Final Report.

Route 79/Davol Street Corridor Study

The Route 79/Davol Street Corridor Study, completed in 2014, reviewed the long-term direction of the Route 79/Davol Street corridor in Fall River, which runs along the eastern bank of the Taunton River. Revitalization of the Fall River waterfront has long been a goal of the city. This study identified and evaluated the corridor’s impact on economic development along the waterfront, as well as other regional transportation impacts, economic and land use feasibility, environmental constraints, and coordination with the South Coast Rail project. Recommendations from this study placed a strong emphasis on improving quality of life and enhancing mobility, connectivity, and safety for all transportation modes and users in surrounding neighborhoods, Fall River, and throughout the region as a whole. For more information please download the Final Report documents below.

Roxbury-Dorchester-Mattapan Transit Needs Study

In September 2012, MassDOT released the Roxbury/Dorchester/Mattapan (RDM) Transit Needs Study final report. The study fulfilled a MassDOT commitment to complete a community-driven public transit needs assessment in this large section of Boston currently underserved by direct rapid transit. The study made a series of 19 recommendations for improving the customer experience and efficiency of MBTA service in these neighborhoods. These recommendations ranged from short-term improvements that could be implemented at low or no cost, to long-term aspirational goals that will require both an increase in system-wide funding for public transit and project-specific planning and design efforts in order to become reality. The success of the study depended heavily on extensive community input, and included an assessment of current and projected demographic, land use, and development characteristics and an evaluation of the existing MBTA network and its ability to meet current and future transportation needs. For more information please download the Final Report.

I-495/Route 9 Interchange Improvement Study

The I-495/Route 9 Interchange Improvement Study, completed in 2011, aims to address traffic congestion and safety issues surrounding the I-495, I-90, and Route 9 interchanges as a result of employment and population growth in surrounding communities. The study identified a number of issues associated with peak period travel, including high volumes of commuter traffic, congestion at the interchanges, geometric and safety deficiencies, limited public transit options, poor pedestrian and bicycle access, and a lack of capacity to accommodate future growth. A broad range of alternatives were developed to improve safety, reduce congestion, provide alternatives to travel by single-occupancy vehicle, and support future commercial and industrial growth in the area. It was determined that no single alternative alone addressed all of the study area issues; rather, a multi-modal solution, consisting of highway, transit, pedestrian and bicycle improvement strategies, was recommended. For more information please download the Final Report documents below.

Massachusetts Travel Survey

The Massachusetts Travel Survey was a large-scale effort to collect information on residents' travel patterns, preferences, and behavior to help build a more complete and accurate picture of statewide transportation needs. Between June 2010 and November 2011, MassDOT contractors asked over 15,000 households to identify where and how they traveled on a specific, designated travel day (24 hours). In order to ensure a sample that was representative of the Massachusetts population, each household was asked a series of detailed questions about their socioeconomic characteristics and access to transportation.

This effort provided data necessary to define travel patterns on the Commonwealth's highway and transit networks, and is used for projections of expected future highway traffic and transit ridership throughout the state. The information has helped MassDOT prioritize its investments and fulfill federal requirements to ensure compliance with air quality standards in Massachusetts.

Publicly available data is summarized by geographic area and general socioeconomic categories, and can be found in the final report and appendices. The Survey was completely confidential for participants, as personal identifying information was separated from all responses collected before the results were provided to MassDOT.

Knowledge Corridor

The Knowledge Corridor - Restore Vermonter Project evaluated the potential to restore Amtrak's Vermonter intercity passenger train service from the New England Central Railroad in Central Massachusetts back to its former route on the Pan Am Southern Railroad in Western Massachusetts. This route provides a shorter and more direct route for the Vermonter between Springfield and Northfield, with station stops at the former Amtrak station at Northampton and a new intermodal station at Greenfield. The planning study found that the expansion has the potential to be a major component in producing economic revitalization, spurring job creation, improving air quality, increasing overall mobility, and reducing vehicular traffic congestion in the area. These improvements will facilitate the relocation of the Vermonter by improving safety, increasing operating speeds for existing freight train traffic and the Vermonter, and enhancing capacity on the rail line to accommodate future increased levels of train traffic. The improvements and rehabilitation work will be done within the existing railroad right of way.

In 2010 the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded of $70 million for final design and construction of the Knowledge Corridor - Restore Vermonter Project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program. Restoration of the former service occurred in December 2014, with rehabilitation expected to be completed in 2016.

South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan

At the heart of the City of Boston, the South Boston Waterfront is home to an active, growing industrial port; first class convention, cultural and recreational resources that attract visitors from throughout the nation and around the world; and, an emerging center for innovation in the finance, legal, biomedical research, and technology sectors. However, the accelerated pace of growth in the Waterfront in recent years with increased tourism, commercial traffic, and residential populations has led to congestion and mobility challenges. The South Boston Waterfront Sustainable Transportation Plan is both a strategic plan – providing a blueprint for the transportation system improvements over a 20 year planning horizon – and an action plan defining more immediate/short-term strategies to address existing transportation and mobility issues, capacity constraints, transit, pedestrian and bicycle needs, and operational enhancements. The completion of the plan with its articulated goals, objectives, and recommendations, marks the first step towards fulfilling the long-term vision for the South Boston Waterfront. For more information, please view the Executive Summary or the Full Report.

Grounding McGrath: Determining the Future of the Route 28 Corridor

Completed in December 2013, the purpose of this conceptual planning study was to examine and evaluate the feasibility, benefits, impacts, and costs of removing the McCarthy Overpass viaduct on Route 28 in Somerville and replacing it with an at-grade roadway network and intersections.  In coordination with a study Working Group - a plan of short, medium and long-term improvement alternatives was recommended.  The primary long-term recommendation was to reconstruct the McCarthy Overpass as a 6-lane Boulevard concept, while acknowledging that there was also strong public support for a 4-lane concept.  Based on the public comments received, a 4-lane concept in addition to a 6-lane Boulevard concept, as well as a No-Build condition has been moved forward into project development.  This will allow further examination of the benefits and impacts, as well as additional opportunities for public involvement prior to any environmental permitting submission. Please visit the project website for more information on this ongoing effort.

Green Line Extension

This important project will extend existing MBTA Green Line service from a relocated Lechmere Station in East Cambridge to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford. This project will greatly improve public transit service in some of the most densely-populated municipalities of the Commonwealth. Among its many benefits, the Green Line Extension project will:

  • Provide new and better opportunities for residents and visitors to travel within their communities and within the region, address longstanding transportation inequities.
  • Result in fewer automobiles on local roads and help combat greenhouse gas emissions and other components of air pollution.
  • Support municipal plans for sustainable growth and development.
  • Provide residents of environmental justice communities with faster rides to work and other destinations.

MassDOT and the MBTA are committed to comprehensive and inclusive civic engagement as part of this project. Please visit the Green Line Extension website for more information.

Route 110 and 113 Methuen Rotary Study

Completed in April of 2008, the purpose of this conceptual planning study was to evaluate and address transportation issues at the Route 110/113 Rotary Interchange at I-93 in the City of Methuen and surrounding region. The study also examined transportation issues related to industrial development along Route 113 in Dracut, as the associated traffic uses the rotary to access the regional interstate system.  In coordination with the Study Advisory Committee, a plan of short and long-term improvement alternatives was recommended.  Included in this plan were two potential long-term alternatives that would reconstruct the Exit 46 interchange to provide improved mobility and safety. In July of 2008, MassDOT’s Highway Division initiated the project development process in order to identify and move forward with a preferred alternative.  For more information on the current status, please visit the I-93/Route 110/Route 113 Interchange project website for more information.

I-95 South Corridor Study

The addition of a lane along I-95/Route 128 through Dedham and Westwood combined with plans for an improved I-95/I-93 interchange in Canton, have the potential to change travel patterns and encourage further growth in the communities along I-95 south of Route 128. The Department of Transportation commissioned the I-95 South Corridor Transportation Study to undertake a broad, comprehensive analysis and evaluation of the long-term impact that potential growth would have on the region’s transportation infrastructure. The study provided a comprehensive evaluation of the I-95 and Route 1 corridors south of Route 128 that included a recommended plan of short-term and long-term improvements based on the alternatives analysis and the collective input of many stakeholders. For more information, go to the I-95 South project website.

Urban Ring

The Urban Ring is a proposed circumferential bus rapid transit corridor that would connect all existing MBTA rapid transit and commuter rail lines and serve 7 municipalities, including Boston. The proposal has evolved over several decades, culminating with the filing of the Revised Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement with MEPA in 2008. Due to the financial constraints being faced by both the Commonwealth (for funding capital expansions) and the MBTA (for operating new services), MassDOT suspended further environmental review on the Urban Ring in January 2010. Since that time, MassDOT has continued to work with corridor municipalities and the Citizens Advisory Committee on right of way preservation issues, and to pursue "early actions" that help advance the goal of improved circumferential service in the Urban Ring corridor. For more information, go to the Urban Ring project website

I-495 Corridor Transportation Study

In 2008, the I-495 Corridor Transportation Study was completed by MassDOT Planning. The study evaluated transportation issues in the I-495 corridor through the Merrimack Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization and Northern Middlesex Metropolitan Planning Organization regions. Specifically, the study area extended from Exit 32 (Boston Road in Westford) at the southern end, to the I-495/I-95 interchange in Salisbury at the northern end. 

A full range of alternatives, including interchange, highway, non-highway, and multimodal option improvements, was developed and analyzed as part of the study process. A recommended plan of near, mid, and long-term transportation improvements based on the alternatives analysis, is included in the final report.

For additional information, please contact: Bob Frey, Director of Project-Oriented Planning<

I-93/I-95 Interchange Transportation Study

Between 2004 and 2007, MassDOT Planning worked closely with an advisory task force during a study of the I-93/I-95 Interchange in the Towns of Reading, Stoneham, and the City of Woburn. This interchange (Exit 37) is the busiest in the state, processing over 375,000 vehicles on an average weekday.  The primary goals of this planning study were to examine and recommend ways to improve traffic flow and safety at the interchange while minimizing impacts in surrounding communities.  A full range of alternatives, including interchange improvements and non-highway options, was developed and analyzed.  A recommended plan of future, multi-modal transportation improvements (short-term and long-term), based on the alternatives analysis and community input, has been outlined in the June 2007 final report for this study. The recommendations from the planning study have laid the groundwork for the I-93/I-95 Interchange Transportation Improvements Project, which has begun work on the necessary environmental studies and documentation in order to prioritize the project within the metropolitan planning process, secure additional funding, and ultimately move forward with implementation.  Further details, including the final report for the planning study, can be found at the I-93/I-95 Interchange project website.

Route 146 Transportation Study

This study evaluated transportation issues in the Route 146 corridor through the Towns of Millbury and Sutton. The study followed Planning's standard five-step process: foundations (goals, evaluation criteria, definition of study area, public participation process); existing conditions and issues evaluation; alternatives development; alternative analysis; and recommendations. Recommendations included plans to upgrade the Route 146 corridor to a limited access freeway with frontage roads serving the adjacent land uses. There were also recommendations to upgrade the existing interchange at Route 146/Elm Street and the Boston Road intersection leading to Route 146. Here is a map of the Route 146 study area with major recommendations, or you can view the report. The Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC) is leading a "vision plan" for Route 146 to follow up on the long-term recommendations of this study.

Connecticut River Crossing Transportation Study

When MassDOT began reconstructing the Route 9 Calvin Coolidge Bridge over the Connecticut River between Northampton and Hadley, there was local and regional interest in exploring the potential for an additional bridge crossing to address traffic congestion and improve regional mobility. Planning managed a consultant feasibility study that identified existing traffic issues, examined a wide range of alternatives, and ultimately developed a plan of recommended improvements. These improvements include various intersection changes, increased transit service, and reconfiguration of an interchange (a new bridge was not recommended). The advisory group formed for the study will now work with the area towns, regional agencies, and MassHighway to move forward with the recommendations.

Route 141 Deady Bridge Study

The Route 141 Deady Memorial Bridge is one of four Chicopee River crossings in the City of Chicopee, of which two are limited access roadways (I-291 and I-391). This limited number of bridges restricts cross-river roadway capacity in the area, contributing to congestion. This congestion is worsened by the presence of two signalized intersections and the convergence and divergence of four major roadways at both ends of the Deady Bridge. Average daily traffic on the bridge exceeds 27,000 vehicles per day. The study resulted in a number of recommendations, including reconstruction of the bridge itself and improvements to surrounding intersections. These improvements, including the reconstruction of the bridge, are currently underway.

Route 85 Connector Transportation Study

The purpose of this study was to examine the Route 85 Connector (the Cellucci Highway) and Route 85 itself in the vicinity of the Connector. A large number of existing and proposed residential and commercial developments have contributed to growth in the corridor. The study followed the traditional five step planning approach: foundations (goals, evaluation criteria, definition of study area, public participation process); existing conditions analysis; alternatives development; alternative analysis; and recommendations. Planning worked with an Interagency Agency Advisory Group consisting of the City of Marlborough, the Town of Hudson, MAPC, and District 3. At the completion of the study, recommendations were proposed to address the I-495/I-290/Cellucci Highway interchange, the Cellucci Highway/Fitchburg Street intersection, and the Route 85/Cellucci Highway intersection. You can view a map of the Route 85 study area with major recommendations, or view the study report.

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