Interstate 91 (I-91) is an Interstate Highway
in the New England
region of the United States. It provides the primary north–south thoroughfare in the western part of the region. The Interstate generally follows the course of the Connecticut River
. Its southern end is in New Haven, Connecticut
, at Interstate 95
. The northern end of the American-maintained road is in the village of Derby Line, Vermont
, at the Canadian border. Past the Derby Line–Rock Island Border Crossing
, the road continues as Quebec Autoroute 55
. I-91 is the longest of three Interstate highways whose entire route is located within the New England states (the other two highways being I-89
) and is also the only primary (two-digit) Interstate Highway in New England to intersect all five of the others that run through the region. The largest cities along its route are New Haven, Connecticut
; Hartford, Connecticut
; Springfield, Massachusetts
; Northampton, Massachusetts
; Greenfield, Massachusetts
; Brattleboro, Vermont
; White River Junction, Vermont
; and St. Johnsbury, Vermont
in order from south to north.
I-91 is long and travels nearly straight north and south: in Connecticut
, in Massachusetts
, and in Vermont
. I-91 parallels U.S. Route 5
(US 5) for all of its length, and many of the exits along I-91 provide direct or indirect access to the older highway. Much of the route of I-91 follows the Connecticut River
, traveling from Hartford, Connecticut
, northward to St. Johnsbury, Vermont
I-91 is the major north–south transportation corridor for the center of the state. It is the main route between the larger cities of New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield, Massachusetts
. As such, it is almost always heavily trafficked (especially during rush hour), and maintains at least three lanes in each direction through Connecticut except for a short portion in Hartford at the interchange with I-84
and in Meriden
at the interchange with Route 15
. The three cities also serve as Connecticut's control points along its length of the Interstate.
I-91 begins just east of downtown New Haven at an interchange with I-95
(the Connecticut Turnpike
), and Route 34
. At the bottom of the ramp for exit 5, US 5
begins at the first of its many interchanges with the freeway.
Leaving New Haven, I-91 follows a northeastward trek into North Haven
, where it meets the southern end of the Route 40
expressway. It travels through the eastern part of Wallingford
before entering the eastern part of the city of Meriden
. In Meriden, about halfway between Hartford and New Haven, I-91 sees a complex set of interchanges with the Wilbur Cross Parkway
), the Route 66
expressway, and its first spur route, I-691
I-691 provides a westward link to I-84 and the city of Waterbury
Leaving Meriden, I-91 enters Middlesex County
as it briefly travels through the western part of Middletown
before entering Cromwell
, where it has an interchange with the Route 9
It then enters Hartford County
in the town of Rocky Hill
, and then enters Wethersfield, where it meets the southern end of the Route 3
expressway, which leads to Glastonbury
and the Route 2
expressway via the Putnam Bridge
over the Connecticut River
. From here to St. Johnsbury, Vermont
, I-91 parallels the river, never more than from its shore. I-91 then enters the Hartford
city limits. In Hartford, I-91 it has a set of interchanges with US 5/Route 15 (Wilbur Cross Highway
), which provides access from I-91 north to I-84 east, and from I-84 west to I-91 south via the Charter Oak Bridge
. I-91 then has an interchange with I-84, where all other movements to and from I-84 take place. Before leaving the city limits, an HOV lane
begins that has its own set of interchanges up to exit 38.
I-91 then enters Windsor
, where it meets the western end of its other Connecticut spur route, I-291
. At the Windsor–Windsor Locks
town line, it meets the eastern terminus of the Route 20
expressway, which provides direct access to Bradley International Airport
A couple miles north, I-91 crosses the Connecticut River on the Dexter Coffin Bridge
into East Windsor
. After traveling through East Windsor and Enfield
, it crosses the Massachusetts
state line into Longmeadow
at milepost 58.
I-91 travels through the Pioneer Valley
of western Massachusetts paralleling the Connecticut River
I-91 serves as the major transportation corridor through three Massachusetts counties, linking the cities of Springfield
, and Greenfield
The three cities serve as the control cities
listed on guide and mileage signs, along with Brattleboro, Vermont
beginning with the first northbound conventional mileage sign () in Longmeadow.
In Springfield, I-91 has an interchange with I-291
at exit 8, a spur
going eastbound connecting with the Massachusetts Turnpike
, for travelers going either east to Boston
or west to Albany, New York
. North of Springfield, I-91 briefly enters Chicopee
itself where there is an interchange with the spur of I-391
at exit 12 before turning westward to cross the Connecticut River into West Springfield
. I-391 provides direct access to Holyoke
center, while I-91 continues on the western side of the river.
Just after the river crossing, exit 14 is a major interchange with the Massachusetts Turnpike
(I-90) before entering the city of Holyoke where exit 15 is located. Just after exit 16 U.S. Route 202
, I-91 goes from three lanes to two lanes in each direction to the Vermont state line.
After a short exit-less stretch, I-91 enters Northampton
, passing the Northampton Airport
and an oxbow lake
. The towns of Hadley
, home to the main campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst
, are accessible from I-91 exits in Northampton via Route 9
Continuing north, I-91 enters Hatfield
, and where it begins a straight section—nearly without a bend in the road. Several exits provide access to US 5 and Route 10
before entering Deerfield
. I-91 has two exits in Greenfield
. At exit 26, the southern end of its overlap with Route 2, there is a rest area and visitor information center for Franklin County
. At exit 27, also in Greenfield, is the northern end of its overlap with Route 2 where access to that road is provided via a directional T-interchange, and exit and entry ramps on the left side of southbound I-91. Exit 28 in Bernardston
is the last exit in Massachusetts. Beyond exit 28, I-91 continues for about more before crossing into Vermont.
Massachusetts is the only state traversed by I-91 where another numbered highway is concurrent
with the Interstate (in this case, US 5, for a spur near the Springfield-Longmeadow town line and Route 2, for approximately in Greenfield).
I-91 travels along the eastern border of Vermont
and serves as a major transportation corridor for eastern Vermont and western New Hampshire
. Many exits along Vermont's length of I-91 feature New Hampshire towns on the guide signs (for example, exit 3, which lists Brattleboro and Keene
, as the points of access). The length of I-91 within Vermont is and has two lanes in each direction the entire way from the Massachusetts state line at Guilford
to Derby Line
at the Canadian border (nearly two-thirds of I-91's length) with 29 Vermont interchanges. The highway's rural character and long distances between exits in Vermont are in stark contrast to its south, where exits are more frequent and the road carries four lanes of traffic in each direction at some points. The major control cities in Vermont are Brattleboro
, White River Junction
, St. Johnsbury
, and Newport
. When re-entering northbound I-91 at exit 28 in Derby
, the control city sign is for Canada. Of these destinations, only Newport is a city, although the other towns are sizable. In general, the road parallels its predecessor, US 5.
I-91 enters Vermont in the town of Guilford
. Just before exit 1 in Brattleboro is the Vermont Welcome Center in Guilford. The first three Vermont exits (northbound) serve the town of Brattleboro
. At exit 1, northbound Route 5 provides access to stores and a small industrial area before reaching the south end of the town's center, where a bridge crosses the Connecticut River into Hinsdale, New Hampshire
via NH 119
. Exit 2 (VT 9
) provides access to the western village of the town (West Brattleboro), then continues west to Marlboro
, and Bennington
. Brattleboro's main retail strip is located at and just south of the exit 3 trumpet interchange and traffic circle. Following VT 9 eastward, one can reach Keene, New Hampshire
After exit 3, I-91 heads north to travel through the communities of Dummerston
, North Westminster
, Bellows Falls
, North Hartland
and White River Junction
. White River Junction, listed as a control city on mileage signs as far south as Greenfield, Massachusetts
, is where I-91 and I-89
meet and provide access to many points in Vermont and New Hampshire, at exit 10.
North of the interchange with I-89, I-91 continues towards St. Johnsbury
and travels through Wilder
. It enters Orange County, Vermont
, passing through Thetford
and Wells River
. It continues into the Caldonea County
communities of Barnet
, and Waterford
, before coming to its next major intersection in St. Johnsbury, Vermont
, at the northern terminus of Interstate 93
, providing access to the White Mountains
of New Hampshire
and the Greater Boston
area. Along this stretch of highway between White River Junction and Saint Johnsbury, towns in Grafton County, New Hampshire
on the other side of the river can also be easily accessed. Just after exit 19, there are three exits for St. Johnsbury
, including a major intersection with US 2
. Along westbound US 2, the capital of Vermont, Montpelier
, is eventually reached from I-91, although I-89 provides Montpelier with immediate Interstate access.
I-91 continues northward, now following the Passumpsic River
valley. It travels through Vermont's Northeast Kingdom
region and the town of Lyndon
. Two exits in Lyndon serve the village of Lyndonville
and Lyndon State College
. After exit 24, I-91 departs Route 5, which it had been closely paralleling since the Massachusetts state line. I-91 follows the valley of Miller Run,
[Miller Run feeds southeast into the Passumpsic River.]
and there are no convenient services until Barton at exit 25.
The interstate proceeds through Sheffield
. Here it reaches the highest point on the road, just north of mile marker 150 on Sheffield Heights, elevation .
After leaving the Heights, it enters Orleans County
and follows the Barton River
valley north with exits in Barton
, and Derby
. Exit 29 is the final U.S. exit on I-91 just after mile marker 177 at Derby Line
. Beyond the exit ramp, northbound motorists enter Canada Customs
at Stanstead, Quebec
, and continue into Canada on Autoroute 55
through the Eastern Townships
As with Connecticut and Massachusetts, US 5 closely parallels I-91 for their entire lengths in Vermont. While paralleling I-91 in Vermont, US 5 is never concurrent with the freeway, but remains its own two-lane road, except for a portion in White River Junction where it is a four-lane divided surface arterial.
Traffic and the population of each successive town tend to diminish as the road proceeds northward. The average daily traffic count for 2015 in Vermont were—St. Johnsbury (34,000), Lyndon (17,900), Barton (13,500), and Derby (Canadian border) (10,300).
File:Yale University I-91.jpg|alt=A series of highway ramps with multiple cars on them. A body of water is next to them and they are surrounded by buildings.|The beginning of I-91 in New Haven, CT.
File:2016-09-03 08 43 40 View north along Interstate 91 at Exit 32 (Trumball Street-Interstate 84) in Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut.jpg|I-91 north at exit 32 (I-84 west) in Hartford, CT.
File:I91 Connecticut.jpg|alt=Both sides of a highway with a grass plot in the middle of the roads. Street lamps surround the middle and several cars are on the roads. The roads have an HOV diamond on them.|I-91 has an HOV Lane between Hartford and Windsor, CT.
File:I-91-Vermont.JPG|alt=A four lane highway in snowy weather curving left with several cars on it. An exit sign and mountains are in the distance.|I-91 looking northbound in Brattleboro, VT.
File:I91 rockingham vt 20081220.jpg|alt=A snowy highway road that is icy and looking towards forests and mountains.|Northbound I-91 just north of exit 6 in Rockingham, VT.
File:I-91 in Wheelock VT.jpg|alt=A four lane highway in the woods looking towards mountains on a sunny day.|Southbound I-91 in Wheelock, VT.
A limited-access highway replacement for US 5
was planned at the federal level starting in 1944. A 1953 Massachusetts plan was funded by the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956
, along with spur I-291
(but not I-391
). The Vermont section of I-91 was built in stages from 1958 to 1965. In Massachusetts from Bernardston
, I-91 follows an abandoned right-of-way of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
. To support plans for urban renewal
along the "low value" waterfront, the highway crossed the Connecticut River to parallel active NYNHH railroad tracks on the Springfield side of the river, bypassing West Springfield, Massachusetts
and Agawam, Massachusetts
. Later, this path was perceived as cutting off the city from the river, restricting further commercial development. By 1960, a few miles in Massachusetts were completed, starting from the Connecticut and Vermont state lines. Massachusetts construction was completed from 1960s to 1970.
In the 1950s-1970s, there were plans
to extend I-91 to Wading River, Long Island
from its existing terminus in New Haven, Connecticut
via a crossing of the Long Island Sound
(see "Unbuilt Long Island extension" below).
Vermont completed its last sections of I-91 in 1978.
Starting in the 1990s, several rest areas were downgraded in Vermont, increasing distances between facilities. In 2008, Vermont closed the Springfield–Rockingham rest areas because of suspected use by drug abusers. In 2009, the northbound rest area in Hartford was closed, creating a gap in on-highway facilities. At the present time, there exist two intermediate rest areas with facilities in each direction, in addition to a welcome center at each end of the state. Several parking areas remain open.
In the early 1990s after the I-284
project was canceled, the exit 44 interchange in East Windsor, Connecticut
, was altered as it was designed to be part of the freeway. After alterations, exit 44 connected to Route 5 for all traffic to get on and off. As a result, exit 43 was shut down and closed in that same time frame. Exit 43 was a northbound exit/southbound entrance on State Route 510/Main Street in East Windsor, which was about away from exit 44.
After the September 11 attacks
, a seldom-staffed temporary border patrol checkpoint was installed near White River Junction, Vermont
, about from the Canadian border
In 2005, the Massachusetts Highway Department completed a rebuild of on- and off-ramps in Springfield, to reduce accidents caused by weaving near the tightly spaced exits.
Impact in Springfield
During its construction in the 1960s, I-91 sliced through three Springfield neighborhoods: the North End
, Metro Center
, and the South End
, which led to urban decay
in the highway's vicinity. Despite being widely regarded as positive progress at the time it was built, by 2011, Springfield's portion of I-91 was perceived as disrupting the urban fabric of each riverfront neighborhood, while in effect amputating everything east of the highway—the majority of the city—from the Connecticut River
, the Connecticut River Walk Park
, and the Basketball Hall of Fame. However, I-91 was erected without tunnels, footbridges, and other paths leading to the riverfront, and thus continues to pose logistical problems for people getting to the riverfront, which in turn poses problems for businesses that would like to set up along Springfield's riverfront. The placement of I-91 has left Springfield's riverfront virtually undeveloped aside from the sliver of land surrounding the Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 2010, the Urban Land Institute
made recommendations for how Springfield might reconnect with its riverfront, in order to revitalize the area through urban renewal
, suggesting the most cost-effective but also the most development-limiting strategy (constructing pathways beneath I-91). No decision has been reached regarding those recommendations. As of 2011, academic and civic studies are still underway. Preliminary findings indicate that I-91's placement negatively impacts tourism in Springfield's Metro Center—the site of many of Springfield's historic, cultural, and entertainment venues. Springfield's most popular tourist attraction, the riverfront Basketball Hall of Fame, is separated from Metro Center by a stone wall, buttressing an elevated portion of the six-lane Interstate 91, and greatly discouraging travel between the two areas. Academic suggestions that involve the demolition of the current highway and moving it to a less obtrusive site in the city have been proposed, including the demolition of the highway and following the original path suggested, Riverdale Road, and, least obtrusive but still requiring a great deal of work, a plan to construct numerous walkways beneath the elevated highway to better integrate the neighborhoods with the waterfront despite the highway's presence.
Unbuilt Long Island extension
Between the 1950s and 1970s, officials proposed extending I-91 across the Long Island Sound
from its current terminus at the I-91/I-95
interchange in New Haven, Connecticut
to Wading River, Long Island
by means of a bridge over the Long Island Sound, as one of the many Long Island Sound Link
The extension would have continued southward from Wading River to the southern shore of Long Island
by the existing William Floyd Parkway
in central Suffolk County
—which would have been updated to Interstate Highway standards
. It would also provide easier access to New York City via the Long Island Expressway
(I-495), as well as to The Hamptons
via Sunrise Highway
(NY 27). The various proposals for this never-built extension were ultimately dropped after a 1979 study of the concept. Following this, officials proposed to connect the New Haven and Shoreham
areas by means of ferry service across the Long Island Sound—however, the plans to implement these cross-sound ferry services were ultimately mothballed, as well.
Despite the cancellation of the bridge, many Long Islanders are still in favor of building one.
In 2000, a survey was conducted by News12
, which found that the majority (63 percent) of Long Islanders were in support of such a project.
In 2016, the proposal was again renewed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
, as either a bridge or a tunnel.
However, these plans were also dropped, as announced by NYSDOT
All interchanges in Massachusetts were to be renumbered to milepost-based numbers under a project scheduled to start in 2016. However, this project was indefinitely postponed until November 18, 2019, when the MassDOT confirmed that beginning in the middle of 2020 that the exit renumbering project will begin.
On March 1, 2021, MassDOT confirmed that the exit renumbering on I-91 will start on March 3, and it will last for two weeks. In 2020, Vermont added "milepoint exit" numbers to existing signs, essentially marking each interchange with two exit numbers.
I-91 historical overview
Category:Transportation in Hartford, Connecticut
Category:Transportation in New Haven, Connecticut
Category:Transportation in New Haven County, Connecticut
Category:Transportation in Middlesex County, Connecticut
Category:Transportation in Hartford County, Connecticut
Category:Transportation in Hampden County, Massachusetts
Category:Transportation in Hampshire County, Massachusetts
Category:Transportation in Franklin County, Massachusetts
Category:Transportation in Windham County, Vermont
Category:Transportation in Windsor County, Vermont
Category:Transportation in Orange County, Vermont
Category:Transportation in Caledonia County, Vermont
Category:Transportation in Orleans County, Vermont
Category:U.S. Route 5