Why Does the Mass-Pike Avoid Worcester?

Mass-Pike Does Not Service Worcester

A problem that seems to come up time and time again for residents of central Massachusetts is why when building the Massachusetts Turnpike did construction avoid Worcester? Being that Worcester is the second largest city in the state, one might assume that the primary highway in the state would cut through Worcester. However, when looking at this map, the Mass-Pike shown in red dips south just east of Worcester.

One reason for the strange turn in the road may be simply economic. It is said that the construction of the highway was to run extremely over budget and that the amount of property that would need to be reclaimed in Worcester would outweigh the benefits. Simply, the increase in tax revenue that Worcester could expect from a location on the turnpike would not offset the cost to pay property owners to relinquish their lands. This seems reasonable, but the highway does go straight into downtown Boston, so it seems unlikely that this problem was not present there as well.

Another possibility is a bit more interesting. In the 1950's when construction was set to begin, Worcester had reached it's peak as an industrial powerhouse city; it's then population of more than 200,000 later declined by about 25%. Boston officials were worried about the growing importance of Worcester and thought that the city may eventually outperform Boston. One way to deal with this problem would be to suffocate Worcester by making it difficult for goods to be transported to and from the city by road. The solution: make sure that the main highway in the state did not pass through the city.

Which seems more likely?