Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick Tuesday announced $200 million in initial funding to rework the busy Interstate-91 viaduct in Springfield. The governor spoke to a gathering of Greater Springfield business leaders.
Patrick called the 91 viaduct project a long time in the waiting, a casualty of Boston’s Big Dig that starved other vital roads projects across the state.
“This is, as you all know, a project that is desperately needed for safety and accessibility reasons. And that presents a real opportunity to reunite the downtown to its neighbors and the riverfront,” Patrick says.
The first phase of the project will be to repair the elevated section of the highway. Falling concrete earlier this month forced the closure of the top deck of a parking garage underneath the road.
Transportation Secretary Richard Davey says some of the money will also fund a study to look at lowering the elevated section to ground or below level.
“The viaduct itself really cuts through the downtown and separates the basketball hall of Fame with downtown,” Davey says. “If we were to bring it below grade or at grade just the visual aesthetic alone would be significant but you could create potentially more park space.”
Work is expected to begin next November and take three years to complete.
Governor Patrick says western Massachusetts residents must hold the next administration and legislature accountable to ensure the project is completed.