Central Artery

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Central Artery[edit | edit source]

The Central Artery, also known as the "Highway in the Sky," was a major highway in Boston, Massachusetts. It was a significant transportation infrastructure project that aimed to alleviate traffic congestion in the city. The construction of the Central Artery began in the 1950s and was completed in the early 2000s.

History[edit | edit source]

The idea for the Central Artery project originated in the 1930s when Boston faced increasing traffic congestion due to the growing population and automobile usage. The project aimed to create a high-speed highway that would connect the northern and southern parts of the city, providing a direct route for commuters and reducing traffic congestion on local streets.

Construction of the Central Artery began in 1951, and the first section of the highway was opened to traffic in 1959. Over the next few decades, additional sections were added, expanding the highway's reach and capacity. However, as the city continued to grow, the Central Artery became increasingly congested, leading to further traffic problems.

Big Dig[edit | edit source]

In the 1980s, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority proposed a major renovation project for the Central Artery, known as the "Big Dig." The project aimed to address the traffic issues by replacing the existing elevated highway with an underground tunnel system.

Construction for the Big Dig began in 1991 and was one of the most complex and expensive infrastructure projects in U.S. history. The project involved the construction of tunnels, bridges, and ramps, as well as the relocation of utilities and the creation of new public spaces.

The Big Dig faced numerous challenges, including cost overruns, design flaws, and construction delays. However, it was completed in 2007, and the new underground highway system significantly improved traffic flow in Boston.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The Central Artery and the subsequent Big Dig project had a profound impact on Boston's transportation infrastructure. The underground tunnel system not only improved traffic flow but also opened up new opportunities for urban development.

The removal of the elevated highway allowed for the creation of new public spaces, such as the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which is now a popular park in the heart of the city. The project also led to the revitalization of surrounding neighborhoods and increased accessibility to various parts of Boston.

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD