Worcester Needs a New Highway

Bringing the Airport to Life

I want to begin this post by saying that in almost all cases, I think that the construction of new highways is not a good idea. I tend to think that highways are a waste of public funds that could be better spent on things such as public transportation. But, the city of Worcester is particularly unique in that it is currently not well served by highways. 

Worcester is the second largest city in New England, but it has a poor road network compared to other major cities. There is only one highway that runs through the city, I-290, and one that runs to the north of the city I-190. Most cities have the fortune of having highways that run through the city as well as a beltway that encircles the city. 

Worcester could benefit from a beltway loop for two reasons. The first is that currently, anyone who lives on the west side of the city is about a fifteen minute drive from an interstate. This dramatically increases commuting times and because there are no highways or viable forms of public transportation, main roads become unbelievably clogged in residential neighborhoods for hours at a time. If you live West of the city outside of the city limits, your commute is likely even more unfortunate.

The second reason is that Worcester actually has an airport which has started offering daily flights. The city has struggled for years to make it's airport a viable option, but it is largely ignored for airports in Boston and Providence. One major reason is that right now it is quite inconvenient to fly from the airport as it is difficult to access. If Worcester wants to expand it's airport and bolster it's economy, it must make the airport more accessible.

From the highway, it takes 13 minutes and several winding roads to find the airport when there is no traffic. And there is always traffic. Signs directing traffic are poor, roads are bumpy and it is just unpleasant trying to get to the airport. If Worcester has any chances of competing with customers flying out of TF Green or Logan, it needs to improve airport access.

Here is my proposal.

Beltway

Worcester should build an interstate, presumably named I-490, that would connect the Mass Pike with I-190. The route could go around the outside of the city through relatively undeveloped sections of Auburn, Leicester and Holden. It would link all three of these towns more readily to the Mass Pike and allow commuters to reach their jobs much more easily. These western suburbs of Worcester, and the west side of the city itself, could actually begin to expand just as communities to the east of the city have done.

But more importantly, it would link the airport directly to the mass pike. It would suddenly become convenient for residents of central New England to fly out of the Worcester airport. They would have easy directions and not need to worry about driving through the clogged city to catch a flight. I strongly believe that this would give a huge boost to the local economy.