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.
“In America there's [often] this outdated, outmoded attitude that cities are obstacles that you have to blast giant traffic machines through.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
- 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
- Interim improvements are currently underway and will include buffered bike lanes, curb extensions, and added signals
- 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.
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