Elevated Highways
1:11 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Survey Says: What's Your Springfield Commute?

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is asking the public for input on daily routes, parking locations, and commute timing in anticipation of the reconstruction of an elevated highway through Springfield.

The three-year, $260 million project could involve the rebuilding of a 2.5-mile stretch of I-91 along the Connecticut River, either at grade or below. For now, the first phase of the project includes work on I-91 near its connection with I-291.

I-91 through Springfield from the south.
I-91 through Springfield from the south.
Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR

A survey online, available in both English and Spanish, asks questions about normal weekday travel routes, whether the travel is for work or other purposes,  and whether there are other remarks about "your travels through the Springfield area."

Access to a parking garage underneath I-91 in downtown Springfield and a pedestrian bridge. Partial closure may be necessary during highway reconstruction.
Access to a parking garage underneath I-91 in downtown Springfield and a pedestrian bridge. Partial closure may be necessary during highway reconstruction.
Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR

Work on the elevated highway, once it begins, is expected to take about three construction seasons, The Springfield Republican reported in February.

Construction will affect at least two parking garages under the viaduct, which will have to close partially. Two travel lanes in each direction on I-91 will remain open throughout construction, according to The Republican.

The aim is similar to plans that have been in the works for Hartford's I-84 viaduct, which severed the city in half when it was built in 1965.

In Springfield's case, the elevated highway blocks easy access to the riverfront. Officials said they are considering how to redesign the viaduct to make that access easier.

Downtown Springfield as seen from a fence along the riverfront. A highway and a rail line separate the river and downtown.
Downtown Springfield as seen from a fence along the riverfront. A highway and a rail line separate the river and downtown.
Credit Heather Brandon / WNPR

"The I-91 viaduct is currently a barrier between downtown Springfield and the Connecticut River Riverwalk," Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement last fall. "[A planning] study's developed alternatives will identify ways to strengthen both the multi-modal accommodations within Springfield and the connections between downtown Springfield and the waterfront."