Joining I-91 and Downtown with I-90 and the Mass Pike, Interstate 291 forms an urban loop through the city of Springfield. The freeway is six lanes wide east to Exit 4 (St. James Avenue) and four lanes from there north into the city of Chicopee. The connection with the Massachusetts Turnpike is substandard with an at grade intersection joining the access road to I-90 from the freeway end at Burnett Road.
Initial plans for Interstate 291 got underway in 1953, with construction starting the following year. The freeway opened between Interstate 90 and U.S. 20 / Massachusetts 20A in 1957. Ensuing work on I-291 did not commence until 1967. The remaining section was completed in 1970.1