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Interstate 93

 

Routing

A New England intra-regional Interstate, Interstate 93 serves the Boston metropolitan area, northern Massachusetts through Lawrence, the state of New Hampshire, and northern Vermont. It parallels U.S. 3 for nearly its entire route, and it provides a direct connection to Canada via Interstate 91 north of St. Johnsbury, Vermont.

A ten-mile section of two-lane Interstate 93 exists through Franconia Notch between Exits 33 and 35 in New Hampshire, with recreational access provided at Exits 34A, 34B, and 34C (formerly numbered as Exits 1, 2, and 3). This portion of the route, primarily designated as U.S. 3 and secondarily as Interstate 93, is a single carriageway Super Two freeway with limited access and no passing lanes. This allows the freeway to intrude minimally on the sensitive areas of the Notch, including the former Old Man of the Mountain, which collapsed on May 3, 2003. For more information, visit the official Old Man of the Mountain site. There are no plans to expand Interstate 93/Franconia Notch Parkway beyond its current two-lane configuration.

The Big Dig

The section in downtown Boston was reconstructed in one of the most expensive and dramatic projects in highway history. Known as "The Big Dig," upon completion the project sees the removal of the elevated "green elephant" through downtown (though part of the double deck in Charlestown will remain). Traffic is relocated to a system of tunnels, as well as a new 10 lane (six lanes northbound, four lanes southbound) cable-stayed bridge over the Charles River (plus the four-lane Leverett Circle Connector bridge). This new span replaces the original six-lane double decker bridge. More information is on the official website.

No ceremonies were held as the last section of new freeway for Interstate 93 opened to traffic. The December 20, 2003 completion of the southbound lanes through Interstate 93's tunnel marked the end of the $14.6 billion project. The often controversial project was $4 billion over budget, and the source of bitterness among residents and politicians the like. With roots stemming from 1987, the Big Dig even raised concerns of then President Ronald Reagan because of its overwhelming cost. Nonetheless, after years of construction, the Big Dig sees the removal of a city eyesore and traffic nightmare with the opening of two miles of underground roadway.1

One and a half miles of green space will be found at the former location of the Interstate 93/Fitzgerald Expressway when all of the demolition work is complete. With the busy freeway underground, up to 8 acres of public park space will grace the city along the former alignment. Additionally land for new housing, shops, and cultural venues will be available. All in all 16 million cubic yards of dirt were excavated for the 7.5 miles that constitute the new tunnels created.1

Unfortunately, the Big Dig has a lasting legacy. Its underwater tunnels have a tendency to leak (it will take ten years to fix the problem - by 2015 in some early reports), the project managers (Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff) are accused of making decisions that resulted in extraordinary costs for the project, and the cost overruns have caused NBC News to refer to this project repeatedly on its "Fleecing of America" segment. For more detailed information on the Big Dig, we recommend the following sites:

The White Mountains

The northern areas of Interstate 93, in stark contrast, travel through the picturesque White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, before a terminus in scenic Vermont. The section of Interstate 93 that runs along the two-lane Franconia Notch Parkway is technically not a part of Interstate 93, as it does not meet current Interstate standards. It was constructed as a compromise between the park service and highway department, and as such it is mostly signed as U.S. 3 and "TO" Interstate 93 (with some exceptions). When originally constructed, the Franconia Notch Parkway carried its own exit numbers (1, 2, and 3) separate from mainline Interstate 93. However, this was changed in 2002; according to Jeffrey Moss, the exit numbers are now continuous with mainline Interstate 93. This change was made because the transition from the freeway to the parkway is nearly invisible to the motoring public (aside from brown guide signs and the narrowing of the freeway to two lanes), so it made more sense to keep the exit numbers consistent. All access is restricted to exits and designated parking areas.

Parallel/Historical U.S. Routes

Interstate 93 primarily bypasses communities along U.S. 3 in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Highway Guides

History

The Everett Turnpike portion of Interstate 93, from Manchester north to Concord opened to traffic in August 1957.1

Southern Terminus - Interstate 95 - Canton, Massachusetts
Perspective from Interstate 93 south
Two miles east of junction Interstate 95 at the Blue Hill River Road diamond interchange (Exit 3). Interstate 93 & U.S. 1 southbound meet Massachusetts 138 (Massachusetts Street) one mile ahead. Where Interstate 93 ends, Interstate 95 takes over as the Yankee Division Highway northward to Needham, Newton, Waltham, Lexington, and Woburn. Photo taken by Steve Timmons (02/04).
Interstate 93 leaves downtown Boston with U.S. 1 & Massachusetts 3 in tow to Braintree. There Massachusetts 3 splits from Interstate 93 & U.S. 1 along its own freeway southeast to Plymouth and Cape Cod. Interstate 93 & U.S. 1 turn west two miles to junction Massachusetts 24, a north-south freeway traveling south to Taunton and Fall River, and 4.5 miles to junction Interstate 95, the southern terminus of Interstate 93. Pictured here is a an end sign for Interstate 93 at Canton. Photo taken by Steve Timmons (02/04).
The mainline of Interstate 93 (former Massachusetts 128) defaults onto Interstate 95 northbound toward Dedham and Norwood. U.S. 1 continues along the freeway another three miles to Exit 15 (Providence Highway). Exit 1 meanwhile constitutes the ramp onto Interstate 95 southbound for Foxboro, Attleboro, and Providence, Rhode Island. Photo taken by Steve Timmons (02/04).
Entering the partially used interchange between Interstate 93 & U.S. 1 and Interstate 95. The Exit 1 ramp to Interstate 95 southbound splits with a ghost ramp that was intended for unconstructed Interstate 95 north. Additional abandoned ramps are found within the pervasive junction between the two freeways. The present configuration is however that of a trumpet interchange. Photo taken by Steve Timmons (02/04).
Perspective from Interstate 95 south
Before Interstate 95 was signed around Boston, Massachusetts 128 signage adorned the beltway outside of the city. When it was decided to not build Interstate 95 through downtown, Massachusetts 128 became co-signed with Interstate 95 from Peabody southward. Therefore Interstate 95 south exits as a one-lane exit off Massachusetts 128 (the beltway) at Interstate 93 because of the planned routing through downtown Boston. In other words, only one lane exists for this ramp because Interstate 95 was never intended to follow the beltway in the original design. Ghost ramps exist at the interchange, including the overpass in this photograph, that constitute the never opened Interstate 95 northward. Additionally, this interchange marks the current southern end of Massachusetts 128. The state route once extended eastward to Massachusetts 3 (where Interstate 93 turns north) and even earlier to Hull on Massachusetts 228. Photo taken by Dan Moraseski (12/00).
Perspective from Interstate 95 north
Two miles south of the Interstate 95 entrance onto the Massachusetts 128 beltway is this diagram guide sign. The cloverleaf design stems from the original plans of this interchange that implied Interstate 95 continue north into Boston itself. Photo taken by Chris Elbert (07/06).
To continue north on Interstate 95, a sharp curve is required as shown in this diagrammatical sign. A pair of advisory signs also mention the sharp curve on the cloverleaf ramp at the junction with Interstate 93 and Massachusetts 128. Exit 12 is about one mile to the north. Photo taken by Chris Elbert (07/06).
Interstate 93 northbound begins, arcing eastward to Quincy before turning north toward Downtown Boston. Neglected on all of the Exit 12 guide signage of Interstate 95 is U.S. 1. The federal route utilizes the Boston beltway between Exit 15 of Interstate 95 and Exit 7 of Interstate 93. The highway maintains an overlap with Interstate 93 northward into Downtown. Photo taken by Chris Elbert (07/06).
For motorists that continue on Interstate 95 beyond the gore point in the above photograph, a guide sign reminds of the sharp cloverleaf ramp Interstate 95 uses to enter the Boston beltway (Massachusetts 128). Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (04/21/02).
Northern Terminus - Interstate 91 - St. Johnsbury, Vermont
Perspective from Interstate 93 north
Light snow blanketing the landscape, an end advisory sign is posted for the upcoming terminus of Interstate 93. This is the only sign posted of the Interstate end. Photo taken by Chris Jordan/Douglas Kerr (11/02/02).
There is no exit number assigned to the Interstate 91 terminus interchange of Interstate 93 northbound. This button copy guide sign rests along the northbound side of the highway in anticipation of the tri-level stack interchange ahead. Control points featured are Saint Johnsbury (a small city just two miles to the north) and White River Junction (the point where Interstate 91 intersects Interstate 89, 55 miles to the south). A truck bypass of Saint Johnsbury for U.S. 2 is posted on Interstate 93 between Exit 1 (Vermont 18) and Interstate 91, and Interstate 91 between Interstate 93 and Exit 21 (U.S. 2). Photos taken by Chris Elbert (07/06); Chris Jordan/Douglas Kerr (11/02/02); and AARoads (07/00).
Interstate 93 concludes its three state journey at the upper level of the Interstate 91 stack interchange. Note that the right-hand panel features a "TO" next to the Interstate 91 shield. There is direct access between the two freeways and thus, this the word "TO" is unnecessary. 49 miles separate Interstate 93 from the Canadian International border at Derby Line, Vermont. The state capital of Montpelier is 37 miles via Interstate 91 north and U.S. 2 west from this point. Photos taken by Chris Elbert (07/06) and AARoads (07/00).
Perspective from Interstate 91 south
Button copy guide sign for Interstate 93/Exit 19 on Interstate 91 southbound. The control city of choice is that of Littleton, New Hampshire, a quaint New England town of 4,431 at the Interstate 93 crossing of U.S. 302. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman/Andy Field (07/00).
Simple sign bridge on Interstate 91 southbound at the split with Interstate 93/Exit 19. By far one of the most scenic stretches of New England freeway resides on Interstate 93 between Saint Johnsbury and Plymouth, New Hampshire. Highlights along the route include the Connecticut River valley, the White Mountain State Forest, and Franconia Notch State Park (featuring the New Hampshire famous "Old Man of the Mountain" rock facade). Photo taken by Alex Nitzman/Andy Field (07/00).
Tri-level stack interchange of Interstate 91 and 93. The lowest level is that of Interstate 91 south to Interstate 93 south. This junction is the only stack interchange within the state of Vermont. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman/Andy Field (07/00).

Sources:

  1. "$14.6 billion later, Boston's Big Dig wraps up," The Christian Science Monitor, December 19, 2003.
  2. Everett Turnpike (US 3, I-293, and I-93) (Boston Roads).

Page Updated April 8, 2007.

 
Mileage

State Massachusetts
Mileage 47.07
Cities Boston, Lawrence
Junctions Interstate 95, Interstate 90, Interstate 95, Interstate 495
State New Hampshire
Mileage 131.78
Cities Manchester, Concord, Franklin, Plymouth, Littleton
Junctions Interstate 293, Interstate 293, Interstate 89, Interstate 393
State Vermont
Mileage 11.10
Cities St. Johnsbury
Junctions Interstate 91
TOTAL 189.95
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 93 Annual Average Daily Traffic

State Location AADT Composite Year
New Hampshire Salem 112,479 2002
New Hampshire Derry 83,000 2002
New Hampshire Manchester 95,000 2002
New Hampshire Concord 70,124 2002
New Hampshire Plymouth 20,000 2002
New Hampshire Franconia 5,800 2002
Source: Mass Highway Traffic Volume Counts (2002)
Traffic Volume Report 2002 (NHDOT)
2002 (Route Log) AADTs State Highways (VTRANS)
Complete Interstate 93 AADT data.

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