Route 128 (designated as the Yankee Division Highway) is a state highway in the U.S. state of Massachusetts, maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Spanning 57 miles (92 km) along a generally south-north axis, it is one of two beltways (the other being Interstate 495) circumnavigating around Boston, and is known as the "inner" beltway, especially around areas where it is 15 miles (25 km) or less outside of Boston. The original 128, called the "Circumferential Highway," followed existing roadways in Boston suburbs and was designated in 1927. The present-day 128 exists as a controlled-access highway and was the first limited-access circumferential highway in the United States, the first segment of which opened in 1951.
Its southern terminus was previously located at the Braintree Split in Braintree; currently, it exists at the interchange with Interstate 93 (I-93), Interstate 95 (I-95), and U.S. Route 1 (US 1) in Canton. Despite no longer carrying this designation, the section of highway between Braintree and Canton continues to be informally called 128 within Massachusetts. At its current terminus, 128 begins running concurrently with I-95 and US 1. While its concurrency with US 1 ends in Dedham, its concurrency with I-95 continues as it intersects with expressways including I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) in Weston; US 20 in Waltham; Route 2 in Lexington; US 3 in Burlington (with which it runs concurrently within the town); and I-93 and US 1 again in Reading and Lynnfield, respectively. 128 and I-95 split in Peabody; as I-95 continues north towards New Hampshire, 128 travels east towards its northern terminus at an interchange with Route 127A in Gloucester.
In local culture, 128 is recognized as an informal dividing line between the inner municipalities of Greater Boston and the more distant suburbs. It delimits the areas accessible by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) public transit system, and is used to reference the high-technology industry that developed from the 1960s to the 1980s in the suburban areas along the highway.
128 begins in Norfolk County in the south, at the interchange with I-93, I-95, and US 1 in Canton. Until the 1990s, its southern terminus was located at the junction of I-93, US 1, and Route 3 (the Braintree Split) in Braintree. At this present-day terminus, 128 becomes concurrent with I-95, and follows the sequential exit numbering scheme used by I-95 as it enters Massachusetts from Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It also begins a wrong-way concurrency with US 1; as 128 and I-95 are signed traveling north, US 1 is signed traveling south, and vice versa. US 1 splits onto its own roadbed at exit 15 in Dedham.
The majority of Route 128 runs in tandem with I-95 from Canton north to Peabody, and after I-95 continues north from Peabody toward New Hampshire, north-east as its own signed highway from Peabody to Gloucester. The I-95 and I-93 signage were added in the mid-1970s when plans to construct I-95 through Boston, directly connecting the two I-95/Route 128 interchanges, were cancelled leaving an unsigned gap (filled in using Route 128). An unused cloverleaf in Canton, now removed, was one of the leftover structures from this plan as well as the existing Northeast Expressway (now part of US 1.)
Until 1965, while and shortly after the Route 3 freeway to Cape Cod was fully finished, the section of current Route 3 between exits 15 and 20 was also designated as Route 128. The route's southern end was then truncated to its intersection with Route 3 in Braintree. The non-freeway section of Route 128 from Route 3 through Hingham to Nantasket was redesignated Route 228. The Massachusetts Highway Department has tried twice, in 1997 and 2003, to truncate 128 back to its intersection with I-95 in Peabody, but local opposition has convinced them to back down.
The area along the western part of Route 128 is home to a number of high-technology firms and corporations. This part of Route 128 has been dubbed and even signed as "America's Technology Highway", and through to the end of the 1980s, was second only to Silicon Valley. Roughly 6 months later, those blue signs were later changed to "America's Technology Region" due to complaints received from MA's National Guard's Yankee Division, the Yankee Division Association, after whom the highway was officially named circa 1948.
Like the I-95 signage mapping onto 128, the mapping of US 3 onto this stretch of 128 is due to US 3 as a separate limited access highway terminating in Burlington on 128 instead of further south at Route 2 in Lexington as originally envisioned. This abrupt termination requires the US 3 signage to continue along 128 for somewhat over a mile until it can interchange the old US 3 surface arterial. Moreover, when I-93 and Route 128 ran concurrently south of Boston, before the route was truncated to the I-95 interchange in Canton, they were signed in opposite directions, so it was possible to travel north on I-93 and south on Route 128 at the same time.
The northernmost several exits along Route 128, past exit 12, are not grade-separated interchanges. Exit 10 is signed as the signalized intersection with Route 127, and there are two rotaries between that and exit 12 (the Crafts Road interchange).
Following the completion of the Peabody I-95/Route 128 interchange (Exit 45/29) in 1988; the exit system was changed from concurrency along 128 to a system using the I-95 exits. The exits, which had gone from Gloucester to Braintree, were renumbered along I-95, from the Rhode Island state line to the border with New Hampshire. Exit 37 had been the interchange with I-93, which also had its exit numbered 37 at that interchange. Coincidentally, with the renumbering, exit 37 remained exit 37.
The Boston area MPO studied the Route 128/I-95 Corridor from approximately 2005–2010. The study focused on the heavily congested section from I-90 (Newton) to US 3 (Burlington), and was completed in November 2010. As of 2010, the highway carried over 200,000 vehicles per day. Some possible improvements to Route 128 include HOV Lanes, reconstruction of shoulders, ramp metering, bus on shoulder, and fiber optic traffic system improvements. More studies will need to be completed before projects will begin.
|Boston||Neponset Valley Parkway, Milton Street|
|Dedham||Milton Street, High Street, Common Street, West Street|
|Needham||Dedham Avenue, Highland Avenue|
|Newton||Needham Street, Winchester Street, Centre Street, Walnut Street, Crafts Street, Waltham Street|
|Waltham||High Street, Newton Street, Main Street (U.S. Route 20), Lexington Street|
|Lexington||Waltham Street, Massachusetts Avenue (Route 2A, now Route 4/Route 225), Woburn Street|
|Woburn||Lexington Street, Pleasant Street, Montvale Avenue|
|Stoneham||Montvale Avenue, Main Street (Route 28), Elm Street|
|Wakefield||Albion Street, North Avenue, Water Street, Vernon Street, New Salem Street, Salem Street|
|Peabody||Lynnfield Street, Washington Street, Main Street|
|Quincy||Washington Street, Hancock Street, Adams Street|
|Milton||Adams Street, Centre Street, Canton Avenue, Dollar Lane|
The first section of the new Circumferential Highway, in no way the freeway that it is now, was the piece from Route 9 in Wellesley around the south side of Boston to Route 3 (now Route 53) in Hingham. Parts of this were built as new roads, but most of it was along existing roads that were improved to handle the traffic. In 1931, the Massachusetts Department of Public Works acquired a right-of-way from Route 138 in Canton through Westwood, Dedham and Needham to Route 9 in Wellesley. This was mostly 80 feet (24 m) wide, only shrinking to 70 feet (21 m) in Needham, in the area of Great Plain Avenue and the Needham Line. Much of this was along new alignment, but about half — mostly in Needham — was along existing roads:
From Route 138 in Canton east through the Blue Hills Reservation in Canton, Milton, Quincy and Braintree, Norfolk County acquired a right-of-way in 1927 and built the Blue Hill River Road. This tied into West Street in northwest Braintree, which itself had been taken over by the county in 1923.
The rest of the new highway, from Route 37 east to Route 3 (now Route 53), through Braintree, Weymouth and Hingham, was taken over by the state in 1929. This was all along existing roads, except possibly the part of Park Avenue west of Route 18 in Weymouth.
By 1933, the whole Circumferential Highway had been completed, and, except for the piece from Route 9 in Wellesley south to Highland Avenue in Needham, was designated as Route 128. Former Route 128 along Highland Avenue into Needham center was left unnumbered (as was the Circumferential Highway north of Highland Avenue), but the rest of former Route 128, from Needham center east to Quincy, became part of Route 135. Thus the full route of the Circumferential Highway, as it existed by 1933, is now the following roads:
|Hingham||Derby Street, Old Derby Street|
|Weymouth||Ralph Talbot Street, Park Avenue, Columbian Street|
|Braintree||Columbian Street, Grove Street, Washington Street (Route 37), Franklin Street (Route 37), West Street,
closed road in the Blue Hills Reservation (see Quincy)
|Quincy||closed road in the Blue Hills Reservation (Route 128's roadbed uses its right-of-way), then known as Blue Hill River Road|
|Milton||Blue Hill River Road, Hillside Street|
|Canton||Blue Hill River Road, Royall Street, Green Lodge Street (cut by the Route 128/Interstate 95 interchange)|
|Westwood||Blue Hill Drive (cut by Route 128 Station, and later upgraded on the spot as northbound Route 128)|
|Dedham and Westwood||upgraded on the spot as northbound Route 128 (under U.S. Route 1) and then mostly in the median|
|Needham||Greendale Avenue, Hunting Road, southbound Route 128 under Highland Avenue, Reservoir Street|
|Wellesley||inside the present Route 9 interchange|
At the same time as Route 128 was extended along the new Circumferential Highway, it was extended further into Hull. This alignment, not part of the Circumferential Highway, ran southeast on Route 3 (now Route 53) (Whiting Street) to the border of Hingham and Norwell, where it turned north on present Route 228 (Main Street) through Hingham and into Hull. The exact route through Hingham was Main Street, Short Street, Leavitt Street, East Street, and Hull Street. The end of the numbered route was at the south end of Nantasket Beach, where Nantasket Avenue curves northwest to follow the shore of Massachusetts Bay.
In 1955, Business Week ran an article titled "New England Highway Upsets Old Way of Life" and referred to Route 128 as "the Magic Semicircle". By 1958, it needed to be widened from six to eight lanes, and business growth continued, often driven by technology out of Harvard University and MIT. In 1957, there were 99 companies employing 17,000 workers along 128; in 1965, 574; in 1973, 1,212. In the 1980s, the area was often compared to California's Silicon valley, and the positive effects of this growth on the Massachusetts economy were dubbed the "Massachusetts Miracle".
Major companies with significant locations in the broader Route 128 area included:
The $315 million MassDOT Highway Division project has started widening on the project to upgrade the existing 14.3-mile (23.0 km) six-lane section of highway to eight lanes from north of Route 9 in Wellesley to Route 24 in Randolph. The project consists of adding a lane on the inside of each carriageway, complete with a 10-foot inside shoulder. The existing 1950s bridges, 22 in total, will be replaced as well. The project will be constructed in five phases over a twelve-year period. Construction of phase 1 began in 2004. The first phase of the project consisted of replacing the existing three-lane Route 128 bridges over University Avenue/MBTA/Amtrak and the Neponset River with new four-lane bridges in Canton. The project also included construction of a new two-lane ramp from Route 128 to I-95. The $33 million project was awarded to SPS New England of Salisbury.
During the initial construction of Route 128, a provision had already been made for a fourth lane within the widely spaced median along the 1.5-mile (2.5 km) length of Route 128 running from just north of the U.S. Route 1 interchange in Dedham, Massachusetts, north-westwards to the Route 109 interchange, and this will finally be used for the Add-A-Lane project.
Construction on phase 1 was officially completed in October 2009. Construction of phase 2 of the project began in summer 2006. This phase of the project consisted of the replacement of the Route 1 and Route 1A bridges over Route 128 in Dedham along with the road widening between Exits 13 and 15 (US 1). Construction of four sound barriers between the US 1 and I-95 interchanges were also included. This phase was completed in the Spring of 2011.
Construction on phase 3, begun in April 2009, widened I-93/US 1 to 4 lanes in each direction from Route 24 to the I-95 interchange. Phase 4 of the Project, which began in March 2011, is replacing seven bridges and widens Route 128 (I-95) to four lanes in each direction from Route 109 to south of Highland Avenue in Needham. The southeastern freeway (Pilgrims Highway) that extends from Braintree to Cape Cod, MA Route 3, is also in the process of undergoing a similar "add-a-lane" project for much of its own 42 mile length.
Over the last fifteen or so years, the state has funded a number of highway sign resigning projects on Route 128 that are replacing the 25-year-old signs with new exit, regulatory and route signs. Starting in 1998 and continuing through 2002, signs were replaced through a $1.1 million project between Reading and Lynnfield. Progress continued in 2005 and 2006 during a $2.2 million project which replaced the signs on from Peabody to Gloucester, and continued with a $1.4 million project in 2008 and 2009 that replaced signs in Peabody and the remaining ones in Lynnfield. A $2.9 million federal stimulus project helped replace exit and highway signs in 2010 and 2011 along Route 128 (I-95) from US-3 in Lexington to I-93 in Reading.
A project begun in the Fall of 2012 and completed in the Fall of 2015, replaced exit & guide signs on Route 128 from Route 9 (Exit 20) in Wellesley to Routes 4/225 (Exit 31) in Lexington and, as part of the Add-A-Lane project discussed above, new signs were put up along section of the project completed in 2015 from Great Plain Avenue in Needham to Route 109 in Dedham. New signage was put up between I-95 and US 1 in 2010 and most of the signage between I-95 and Route 24 (on I-93/US 1) has been replaced by the end of 2011. Future projects will replace the signs between the Rhode Island Border and I-93 in Canton in 2018 and between I-93 in Reading and US 1 in Peabody in 2019. New mileage markers were placed every 2/10 of a mile along the highway in 2010 (except for the area covered by the widening project) for I-93 between Braintree and Canton and I-95 from Canton to Peabody. New markers put along Route 128 from Peabody to Gloucester reflect the state highway's total mileage from Canton, indicating MassDOT's change of heart in decommissioning the route where it shares the road with I-95. The previous mile markers (reflected in the exit list below) had mile 0 in Peabody.
Exit numbers along the I-95 portion of Route 128 are in accordance to the I-95 exit numbering scheme in Massachusetts . The stretch north of I-95, as well as the rest of the length before I-95 exit numbering was applied, has decreasing exit numbers traveling northbound, contrary to almost all highways in the US with numbered exits. Route 128 currently has 18 numbered interchanges, starting at 29 (southbound) and continuing downwards to 9 (former Exit 27, an at-grade intersection, was removed, and the last two exits are at-grade intersections). This may be changed over the next few years if all freeway interchanges in Massachusetts are converted to mileage-based numbers under a project that was scheduled to start in January 2016, in order to comply with Federal regulations mandating mileage-based exit numbers on interstate highways, but that, for now, has been indefinitely postponed. The new numbers would abide by standard numbering rules and increase from 37 in Peabody to 54 in Gloucester with the traffic circles and at-grade intersections no longer receiving numbers.
|County||Location||mi||km||Old exit||New exit||Destinations||Notes|
|Norfolk||Braintree||69||–||I‑93 north / US 1 north / Route 3 north – Boston||Former exit on Route 128, now on I-93 / US 1|
|–||7||Route 3 south – Cape Cod||Former southern terminus of Route 128
Exit 20 on Route 3
|68||6||Route 37 – Braintree, Holbrook||Former exit on Route 128, now on I-93 / US 1|
|Randolph||67||5||Route 28 – Randolph, Milton||Former exit on Route 128, now on I-93 / US 1
Split into exits 5A (south) and 5B (north)
|66||4||Route 24 south – Fall River||Former exit on Route 128, now on I-93 / US 1
Northern terminus of Route 24; Exit 21 on Route 24
|Milton||65||3||Ponkapoag Trail – Houghton's Pond||Former exit on Route 128, now on I-93 / US 1|
|Canton||64||2||Route 138 – Canton, Milton||Former exit on Route 128, now on I-93 / US 1
Split into exits 2A (south) and 2B (north)
|0.0||0.0||–||12||I‑93 north / US 1 north – Boston||Southern terminus of Route 128 and concurrency with US 1;|
|0.0||0.0||–||1B||I‑95 north / US 1 south – Dedham, Portsmouth, NH||Exit 1B on I-93 south / US 1 south|
|0.0||0.0||63||1A||I‑95 south – Providence, RI||Southern terminus of concurrency with I-95|
|Dedham||0.6||0.97||62||13||University Avenue – MBTA / Amtrak station|
|Westwood||1.9||3.1||61||14||East Street / Canton Street|
|Dedham||2.6||4.2||60||15||US 1 south to Route 1A – Norwood, Dedham||Northern terminus of concurrency with US 1; Split into exits 15A (Route 1A) and 15B (south)|
|4.1||6.6||59||16||Route 109 – Dedham, Westwood||Split into exits 16A (east) and 16B (west)|
|5.6||9.0||58||17||Route 135 – Needham, Natick||Norfolk County Correctional Center is in the median of Route 128, access from Route 135 Eastern terminus of Route 135|
|Needham||6.0||9.7||57||18||Great Plain Avenue – West Roxbury|
|8.8||14.2||56||19||Kendrick Street / Highland Avenue – Newton Highlands, Needham||Split into exits 19A (Kendrick Street, Newton), 19B (Newton Highlands) and 19C (Needham)|
|Wellesley||9.9||15.9||55||20||Route 9 – Brookline, Boston, Framingham, Worcester||Split into exits 20A (east) and 20B (west)|
|Middlesex||Newton||11.2||18.0||54||21||Route 16 – Newton, Wellesley||Split into exits 21A (west) and 21B (east, signed with exit 22) southbound|
|11.6||18.7||53||22||Grove Street – MBTA Station|
|Weston||12.0||19.3||52||23||Recreation Road||Northbound exit and entrance|
|12.3||19.8||51||24||Route 30 – Newton, Weston||Interchange located after Exit 25 northbound|
|12.5||20.1||50||25||I‑90 / Mass Pike – Boston, Albany, NY||Exits 14-15 on I-90|
|Waltham||14.5||23.3||49||26||US 20 – Waltham, Weston||To Route 117|
|16.3||26.2||48||27||Third Avenue / Wyman Street / Totten Pond Road / Winter Street||Split into exits 27A (Third Avenue / Wyman Street) and 27B (Totten Pond Road / Winter Street)|
|17.6||28.3||47||28||Trapelo Road – Belmont, Lincoln||Split into exits 28A (Belmont) and 28B (Lincoln) northbound|
|Lexington||18.5||29.8||46||29||Route 2 – Cambridge, Boston, Acton, Fitchburg||Split into exits 29A (east) and 29B (west); Exits 52A-B on Route 2|
|19.6||31.5||45||30||Route 2A – East Lexington, Concord||Split into exits 30A (east) and 30B (west); To Hanscom Field via Route 2A west|
|21.8||35.1||44||31||Route 4 / Route 225 – Lexington, Bedford||Split into exits 31A (south / east) and 31B (north / west)|
|Burlington||23.1||37.2||43||32A||US 3 north – Lowell, Nashua, NH||Southern terminus of concurrency with US 3; Exit 25A on US 3|
|23.4||37.7||42||32B||Middlesex Turnpike – Burlington|
|24.8||39.9||41||33||US 3 south / Route 3A north – Winchester, Burlington||Southern terminus of concurrency with US 3; Southern terminus of Route 3A
Split into exits 33A (US 3) and 33B (Route 3A)
|25.7||41.4||40||34||Winn Street – Woburn, Burlington|
|Woburn||26.8||43.1||39||35||Route 38 – Woburn, Wilmington|
|28.4||45.7||38||36||Washington Street – Woburn, Reading|
|Reading||28.8||46.3||–||37||I‑93 – Boston, Concord, NH||Split into exits 37A (south) and 37B (north)|
|29.6||47.6||36||38||Route 28 – Stoneham, Reading||Split into exits 38A (south) and 38B (north)|
|Wakefield||30.8||49.6||35||39||North Avenue – Reading, Wakefield|
|31.6||50.9||34||40||Route 129 – Wakefield Center, Wilmington|
|Essex||Lynnfield||32.3||52.0||33||41||Main Street – Lynnfield Center, Wakefield|
|Middlesex||Wakefield||33.9||54.6||32||42||Salem Street – Wakefield|
|Essex||Lynnfield||34.5||55.5||31||43||Walnut Street –Saugus, Lynnfield|
|35.9||57.8||30||44||US 1 / Route 129 – Boston, Danvers||Split into exits 44A (south / west) and 44B (north / east) northbound; No Route 129 signage southbound|
|Peabody||37.5||60.4||–||45 and 29||I‑95 north – Portsmouth, NH||Northern terminus of concurrency with I-95; Exit 45 on I-95|
|38.4||61.8||–||28||Forest Street / Centennial Drive|
|39.0||62.8||–||26||Lowell Street – Peabody Square, Salem|
|39.7||63.9||–||25||Route 114 / North Shore Mall Road / Lowell Street – Salem, Middleton, West Peabody||Split into exits 25A (Route 114 east / local streets) and 25B (Route 114 west)|
|41.2||66.3||–||23||Route 35 – Salem, Danvers|
|41.8||67.3||–||22||Route 62 – Beverly, Middleton|
|42.5||68.4||–||21||Trask Lane – Folly Hill||Northbound exit and entrance|
|42.5||68.4||–||21||Conant Street – Industrial Park||Southbound exit and entrance|
|Beverly||43.5||70.0||–||20||Route 1A – Beverly, Hamilton||Split into exits 20B (south) and 20A (north)|
|44.2||71.1||–||19||Sohier Road / Brimbal Avenue – Montserrat, North Beverly||No direct access from Route 128 south to Sohier Road|
|45.3||72.9||–||18||Route 22 – Essex, Beverly|
|Wenham||47.4||76.3||–||17||Grapevine Road – Beverly Farms, Wenham|
|Manchester||48.9||78.7||–||16||Pine Street – Manchester, Magnolia|
|50.4||81.1||–||15||School Street – Essex, Manchester|
|Gloucester||53.5||86.1||–||14||Route 133 – West Gloucester, Essex|
|54.2||87.2||–||13||Concord Street – Wingaersheek Beach|
|54.8||88.2||–||12||Crafts Road – Rust Island|
|56.0||90.1||–||11||Route 127 (Washington Street) – Annisquam||Grant Circle, northbound Washington St. marked 'TO Route 127'|
|56.8||91.4||–||–||Dory Road / Gloucester School Road||Blackburn Circle|
|57.6||92.7||–||10||Route 127 (Eastern Avenue) – Manchester, Rockport||At-grade intersection|
|57.8||93.0||–||9||Route 127A – Rockport, Bass Rocks, Eastern Point||Northern terminus; At-grade intersection|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
Route map: Google
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Massachusetts Route 128.|