MassDOT has committed to grounding the McGrath Highway and McCarthy overpass to create a street level boulevard that will help to re-knit the communities of East Somerville. The redesign is a huge win for the community members, advocates, and city officials who convinced the state to work with them, not around them.
- The McGrath Highway was originally built in the 1950's when the main goal of traffic planners was to move cars quickly into and through cities. An elevated segment of the highway, known as the McCarthy overpass, is a particularly stark example of street design that prioritizes the movement of motorized vehicles over all other functions of a city street.
- Traffic on the highway has decreased fifteen percent in the last decade and is expected to decline further with the extension of Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority's (MBTA) Green Line. The expectations for a pedestrian-and transit-oriented boulevard are higher than ever.
- The McCarthy overpass is falling apart. In 2011, it was classified by engineers as functionally obsolete and structurally deficient, meaning the roadway needed to be fixed or torn down.
- With the Green Line Extension, Somerville is anticipating massive redevelopment efforts in the Inner Belt and Brickbottom neighborhoods. But the efforts of the extension will be stunted if the neighborhoods remain physically disconnected by the elevated highway.
- In April 2016,the Somerville Ave off-ramp officially closed to traffic, making way for interim improvements including new signalized crosswalks, bike boxes and bike lanes. These treatments will help to increase comfort and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians before the real work gets underway. View more images of the McGrath interim improvements here.
- Public Information meetings will be scheduled as the McGrath Boulevard Project moves into its formal design phase.
- The McGrath Boulevard Project is slated for construction in 2026-2029. Sign up for email updates with MassDOT here.
What You Can Do
Volunteer: Join us in spreading the word about the importance of safe and livable streets. Our volunteers are actively involved in all of our events and programming, including the Street Ambassadors program.