Interstate 291 is an approach to Springfield from Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike), mainly for travelers coming from points east. The north end is signed as Exit 7, but there is a traffic light on the ramp to Interstate 90. The freeway is six lanes wide in and around downtown Springfield and four lanes wide towards the eastern terminus.
First planned in 1953, with work beginning in 1954, Interstate 291 first opened as a freeway between Interstate 90 and U.S. 20 / Massachusetts 20A in 1957. Work would not continue on the remainder of Interstate 291 until 1967, with completion of the freeway in 1970.1
Western Terminus - Interstate 91 - downtown Springfield, Massachusetts
Perspective from Interstate 291/U.S. 20 west
The first diagrammatic overhead for the Interstate 91 and Exits 2A/B ramp split lies one mile east of the Interstate 291 end near Armory Street (Exit 3). Interstate 291 ends at a tri-level stack interchange with its parent at Pynchon Park along the Connecticut River. Photo taken 08/09/04.
Amory & Liberty Streets pass over Interstate 291 & U.S. 20 one half mile ahead of their split at Interstate 91. A set of overheads lie ahead of the Exit 3 overpasses to partition traffic into the north and southbound ramps of Interstate 91. Exit 2B leaves with Exit 1B for Interstate 91 north and Dwight Street. Exit 2A departs with Exit 1A for Interstate 91 south and Chestnut Street. U.S. 20 kisses Interstate 91 between Exit 2B and Plainfield Street before crossing the North End Bridge to West Springfield nearby. Photo taken 08/09/04.
Traffic merging onto Interstate 291 & U.S. 20 westbound from Armory Street expand the roadway to four lanes. Use either the Dwight Street (Exit 2B) or Chestnut Street (Exit 2A) off-ramps for the Springfield central business district to the south. Use Interstate 91 north for Chicopee (via Interstate 391) and Holyoke and south for Agawam and Longmeadow. Photo taken 08/09/04.
U.S. 20 westbound departs Interstate 291 for Exit 1B to the North End Bridge and West Springfield. The US route follows Westfield Street to Westfield from the Connecticut River. Interstate 91 northbound otherwise travels 1.50 miles to its split with Interstate 391 at Exit 12. Interstates 391 spurs north 4.46 miles to U.S. 202 in east Holyoke. Photo taken 08/09/04.
Chestnut Street crosses over the Interstate 291 ramp partition of Exits 1B/A. Exit 2B descends from the northbound Interstate 91 on-ramp to Dwight Street below. Dwight Street intersects Massachusetts 20A (Carew Street) two blocks to the north. Drivers continue to Exit 2A for Chestnut Street southbound for downtown Springfield and Interstate 91 southbound for the 25-mile drive to Hartford, Connecticut. Photo taken 08/09/04.
The northbound ramp to Interstate 91 from Interstate 291 west partitions with the U.S. 20 westbound off-ramp to West Springfield. Photo taken 06/28/05.
Perspective from Interstate 91 north
Interstate 91 northbound in south Springfield. This busy stretch of freeway sees the two mile guide sign for Exit 8/Interstate 291 eastbound as the ramps from Exit 3 depart in elevated fashion to the right between Columbus Avenue and the U.S. 5/Connecticut 57 freeway to the west. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (04/19/02).
A closer look at the Exit 8 - two mile guide sign on Interstate 91 northbound in the above photograph. Exits 4-7 still await Interstate 91 motorists between this interchange (Exit 3) and Interstate 291/U.S. 20. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (06/00).
Interstate 91 northbound at Exit 8, the western terminus of Interstate 291. U.S. 20, which overlaps with Interstate 291 east through to Exit 5, shares pavement with Interstate 91 northbound between Exits 8 and 9 (the next off-ramp). There is no eastern control city as Interstate 291 was built to provide better access between Interstate 90, the Massachusetts Turnpike, and downtown Springfield. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (04/19/02).
Perspective from Interstate 91 south
After crossing the Connecticut River, Interstate 91 turns from an eastward orientation to the south. Interstate 391 ties into this right angle, stemming from the north and Chicopee. Similar to the two mile guide sign on Interstate 91 north, the southbound signage for Interstate 291/Exit 8 is displayed before Interstate 91 intersects intervening Exits 11-9. Photo taken 06/28/05.
Interstate 91 south merges with U.S. 20 eastbound at the Plainfield Street partial-cloverleaf interchange. U.S. 20 enters the scene from West Springfield via the North End Bridge. Photo taken 06/28/05.
Upcoming exits sign listing the distance to Interstate 291 & U.S. 20 east (Exit 8) and downtown Springfield (Exit 7). Interstate 291 & U.S. 20 leave Interstate 91 at the north edge of the Springfield central business district through to Athol Junction. Photo taken 06/28/05.
A two-lane off-ramp constitutes the eastbound beginning of Interstate 291 from Interstate 91 southbound at Exit 8. Interstate 291 & U.S. 20 overlap between downtown and Exit 5 at the East Springfield neighborhood of the city. Photo taken 06/28/05.
U.S. 20 eastbound drivers enter the scene from the North End Bridge for Interstate 291 eastbound at the Exit 8 flyover from Interstate 91 southbound. Photo taken 06/28/05.
Perspective from Interstate 291 & U.S. 20 east
Exit 8 from Interstate 91 southbound merges with U.S. 20 from the North End Bridge and quickly encounters Exit 2A for Chestnut Street and downtown Springfield. The northbound ramp from Interstate 91 merges onto the freeway mainline beyond the Chestnut Street over crossing. Photo taken 06/28/05.
The begin shield posted for Interstate 291 resides at the ramp merges from Interstate 91 south & U.S. 20 east and Interstate 91 north. A split-diamond interchange joins the freeway with Armory and Liberty Streets (Exit 3) ahead. Photo taken 06/28/05.
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 90 - north of Springfield, Massachusetts
Perspective from Interstate 291 east
The last Interstate 291 eastbound exit is for the Massachusetts Turnpike/Interstate 90 at Exit 7. This battered overhead, posted on the Exit 6/Ludlow sign bridge, still retains a state name Interstate 90 shield. Traffic not wishing to access the toll road can continue northward via Burnett Road. Photo taken 07/00.
Perspective from Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) west
A look at the two-mile guide sign for Interstate 291 an Exit 6 on Interstate 90 westbound. Interstate 291 provides an urban loop between the Mass Pike and Interstate 91 at downtown Springfield. Traffic interests to Interstate 91 southbound for Hartford, Connecticut should use Interstate 291 west. Photo taken 08/09/04.
Continuing west through Ludlow toward the Exit 6 trumpet interchange. Traffic departing Interstate 90 ahead meets Interstate 291 at the intersection with Burnett Road. Burnett Road stems east from Interstate 291 to Holyoke Street north of Ludlow. Photo taken 08/09/04.
Three interchanges serve the city of Springfield from the Massachusetts Turnpike. They are Exit 6 (Interstate 291), Exit 5 (Massachusetts 33), and Exit 4 (Interstate 91 & U.S. 5). Interstate 291 comprises 5.44 miles of freeway between Burnett Road & Interstate 90 and Interstate 91. U.S. 20 merges with Interstate 291 between Exits 5 and 1. Photo taken 06/28/05.
Button copy overheads remain in use at the Exit 6 ramp departure to Interstate 291 west and Burnett Road east. Exit 5 joins Interstate 90 with Massachusetts 33 (Memorial Drive) and Montgomery Street two miles ahead. Photo taken 06/28/05.
Perspective from Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) east
Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) eastbound at the east Springfield interchange for Interstate 291 west/Exit 6. Interstate 291 serves downtown Springfield from Interstate 90 but also a connection to Interstate 91 for Hartford, Connecticut bound traffic. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (06/00).
Interstate 291 westbound guide sign posted at the end of the Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) Exit 6 ramps. This button copy sign stems from the completion of Interstate 291 and retains a shield with the state name. Downtown is just a five mile drive from this point. Photo taken by Shawn De Cesari (12/99).
Old style Interstate 291 guide sign at the Interstate 90 (Massachusetts Turnpike) Exit 6 Toll Plaza access road. Traffic can also turn to the right for Burnett Road and Chicopee Memorial State Park. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (06/00).