The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the designation of Interstate 190 in April 1973 for Massachusetts Route 52, the proposed freeway leading north from I-290 in Worcester.1 Final approval of environmental impact statements was ongoing at the time and optimistically expected to be completed in June 1973. The federal funds for the construction of I-190 were the result of an agreement with the FHWA to transfer money previously appropriated for I-895 from the Massachusetts / Rhode Island State line south to I-195.
Route 52 along I-290 (Worcester Expressway) was proposed to provide a seamless route from Connecticut Route 2, with the Connecticut Turnpike linking it with points south and west. State officials were also expecting future Interstate construction of I-190 northward from Leominster to a point beyond Nashua, New Hampshire to connect with the F.E. Everett Turnpike to Manchester.1
Plans for Interstate 190 (Route 52) were established in 1972 for both from I-290 into Worcester and from Route 2 east of Seartown south to Sterling with construction scheduled to begin late 1974. Work was to progress north and south while the alignment in between was finalized. Governor Francis W. Sargent indicated on June 15, 1973 that the westerly alternative was selected for the freeway between Worcester and Sterling. That route avoided crossing Wachusett Reservoir in West Boylston, including a projected 3,000 foot long span, but did traverse the reservoir watershed both there and in the town of Holden.2
Early indications were that sections of I-190 could open by late 1975 or 1976. The overall route was projected for an opening date in 1977 and estimated to cost $100 million to build.2
The proposed route of Interstate 190 extending north from Worcester on the 1975/76 Massachusetts Official Highway Map.
Preliminary construction for Interstate 190 got underway in August 1975 with the relocation of nearly two miles of Route 2 to accommodate the eventual interchange with I-190. Scheduled for completion in Fall 1977, the $7 million contract was for nearly three miles of new roadway and five bridges.3 With a bid of nearly $9.6 million, the contract for construction of the first section of Interstate 190 was awarded to Henley-Lundgren Co. of Shrewsbury on January 9, 1976. The contract was for 1.14 miles of the freeway from Ararat Street in Worcester to Route 12 just south of the West Boylston town line. Cost estimates for construction of the entire route of I-190 were $125 million.4
Environmental concerns delayed completion of Interstate 190, and the final section of the route was not finished until 1983.5