McGrath Boulevard


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.

Why McGrath?


  • 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.

"In America there's [often] this outdated, outmoded attitude that cities are obstacles that you have to blast giant traffic machines through. ...If they eliminate grade separation — meaning underpasses, overpasses, and roads that resist bikes and pedestrians — everybody will be happy with it after they're done, and any predictions of traffic armageddon will not be [realized]."

- John O. Norquist, President, International Congress for the New Urbanism | Boston Globe

Why_Now_McGrath.jpgWhy Now?
  • 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.

"There is no bigger barrier in East Somerville, and perhaps this entire city, than McGrath Highway."

- Joseph Curatone, Mayor of Somerville | Boston Globe

What's Happening?


March 2018
On Track

McGrath Boulevard improvements are re-affirmed in the final draft of the Lower Mystic River Regional Working Group report: "The Boston MPO has programmed the McGrath Highway and McCarthy Overpass in Somerville and Cambridge on its Long-Range Transportation Plan for construction as early as 2022."

April 2016
A New Vision

The Somerville Ave off-ramp closes to traffic, making way for interim improvements including new signalized crosswalks, bike boxes and bike lanes.

September 2013
Calling for Change

Together, the coalition calls for increased parkland, bike, and pedestrian facilities that will re-knit the neighborhoods of East Somerville and connect them to the rest of the city.

May 2013
Coalition Building

Our advocacy members from Somerville build a coalition of neighborhood groups, advocacy organizations, and elected officials representing over 15,000 people.

2011 - 2013
Studying McGrath

As a member of MassDOT's Grounding McGrath Study, LivableStreets helps guide the McGrath conversation on issues of transportation equity and the factors that make streets livable.

No Quick Fix

The McCarthy overpass is classified by engineers as functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. At a public meeting, community members cheer when MassDOT says the bridge will fall down if they don't fix it.

mcgrath_somerville_ave_and_medford_st.jpgWhat's Next?
  • 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.

mcgrath_tabling_(1).jpgWhat You Can Do

Join the conversation: Attend a LivableStreets Advocacy Committee meeting.

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.

Stand up and be counted: Attend a public meeting. See LivableStreets calendar — it's updated daily!

Become a member: Join the growing community of people invested in creating safe streets and livable communities. Become a member of LivableStreets today!

How would you like to use McGrath Boulevard?

Take our website survey!