The Massachusetts Turnpike, commonly known as the Mass Pike and signed as Interstate 90, is a tolled expressway that stretches across the state of Massachusetts, employing a length of 138 miles between the Berkshire Mountains in the west and Boston-Logan Airport in the east. The Mass Pike is the longest Interstate Highway in the state of Massachusetts, and Interstate 90, of which the Mass Pike is signed as, is the longest Interstate highway in the United States, stretching over 3,000 miles from Seattle to Boston.
The Mass Pike begins at the New York/Massachusetts State Line, in the town of West Stockbridge, Massachusetts. West of the state line, the Mass Pike continues into New York State as the Berkshire Parkway, which is a part of the New York State Thruway (also a toll road). East of the state line, the turnpike passes through the town of West Stockbridge and then proceeds to curve through the Berkshire Mountains, ascending and descending in elevation multiple times in the process. Within the Berkshire Mountains lies the largest gap between exits on the entire Interstate highway system nationwide, with a 30-mile gap between exits 2 and 3. After passing through the towns of Lee and Pittsfield, which lie on the outskirts of the mountains, the Mass Pike enters the Springfield metropolitan area. Springfield is the third-largest city in Massachusetts, behind only Worcester and Boston. Within the metro area, the turnpike crosses the Connecticut River via the Connecticut River Toll Bridge, as well as interchanges with Interstate 91, Interstate 291, and Interstate 391. Continuing east, the turnpike then passes through the towns of Ludlow and Sturbridge, interchanging with Interstate 84 in the latter town.
East of Sturbridge, the turnpike passes through Charlton and Auburn. In Auburn, which is the southern edge of the Worcester metropolitan area, the turnpike interchanges with Interstate 290, a spur route that connects the turnpike to downtown Worcester. In downtown Worcester, Interstate 290 splits to the east, paralleling the turnpike to the north, while Interstate 190, another spur of the turnpike, connects Worcester to points north via Massachusetts Route 2. East of Worcester, the turnpike passes along the northern end of the city of Framingham, interchanging with both of Boston’s beltways - Interstate 495 (Blue Star Memorial Highway) and Interstate 95 (Yankee Division Highway). The interchange with I-95 was the original eastern terminus of the Mass Pike, due to funding and zoning delays with extending the turnpike to Boston.
Once inside the Interstate 95 beltway, the turnpike officially enters the Greater Boston area, passing through Newton, Watertown, and Allston. The turnpike then enters downtown Boston, passing underneath the Prudential Center via the Prudential Tunnel, interchanging with Interstate 93 and the Central Artery Tunnel via the Back Bay Interchange, passing underneath the Fort Point Channel via the Fort Point Channel Tunnel, and finally passing underneath Boston Harbor via the Ted Williams Tunnel. The Ted Williams Tunnel currently marks the eastern terminus of the Mass Pike, as well as the national eastern terminus of I-90.
Proposed East Boston Extension
Currently, the turnpike terminates at the Ted Williams Tunnel and the interchange of Massachusetts Route 1A (East Boston Expressway) at Boston-Logan International Airport. Beyond the airport, the turnpike merges with a continuation of MA-1A, which is officially designed the William F. McClellan Highway and the Lee Burbank Highway. However, there have been various proposals made to upgrade the McClellan and Burbank Highways to Interstate standards, and extend the Mass Pike northeast of the airport through the city of Revere to at least MA-107, and possibly to US-1. These proposals have been met with fierce backlash from residents and commercial owners in Revere, who fear that extending the Pike through the city would disrupt residential life and increase noise and air pollution. Some residents have indicated that they might be willing to support a tunnel underneath the city, similar to what was done with the Thomas P. O’Neil Jr. Tunnel on Interstate 93 that moved the elevated Central Artery underground. However, constructing a tunnel underneath Revere would bring massive traffic disruptions, possibly the loss of several structures, and a huge price tag of over $1 Billion. Therefore, this proposal has not come into fruition, either.
From when it originally opened until 2018, the Massachusetts Turnpike uses a closed “ticket” toll system. Under this system, all vehicles without an EZ-PASS transponder collect a ticket upon entering the turnpike from any given interchange, and then pay a toll when the exit the turnpike based on the distance traveled. This means that the toll rates at each interchange vary depending on the entrance/exit point.
However, as of 2018, the Mass Pike has converted to “open-road tolling”. Under this system, toll booths are no longer present at the interchanges nor mainlines. Instead, electronic toll collection gantries are located along the highway between each interchange, with a few exceptions. Vehicles without EZ-PASS will have their license plates photographed and a bill sent in the mail to the location where the vehicle is registered. This is known as “Pay-by-Plate” tolling and is intended to reduce traffic congestion on highways by eliminating the need to slow down or stop at mainline toll plazas.
The following table contains the minimum and maximum toll rates that are assessed for use of the Mass Pike. In most cases, the lowest toll rate is for a 2-axle passenger car or motorcycle with EZ-PASS, and the highest toll rate is for a big rig tractor trailer without EZ-PASS. Pay-by-Plate rates are slightly more expensive due to the administrative costs of mailing bills. Otherwise, toll rates are calculated by the number of axles.
|Toll Gantry||Location||Minimum Toll||Maximum Toll|
|West Stockbridge||Mile 2.9||$3.00 flat-rate||$3.00 flat-rate|
|Weston||Mile 123.0||$1.50 flat-rate||$1.50 flat-rate|
|Allston-Brighton||Mile 131.15||$1.50 flat-rate||$1.50 flat-rate|
|Ted Williams Tunnel||Mile 137.24||$3.00 flat-rate||$3.00 flat-rate|