SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Drivers have noticed big improvements to their drive time on I-91.
“It’s clearing up. It’s getting much better!” exclaimed Ronia Gibson, who drives I-91 through downtown Springfield from Connecticut.
It’s been so long since the ramp onto I-91 North at Union Street in Springfield has been open, that some drivers nearly forgot it existed when it reopened early Friday morning. 22News noticed one car break from the daily routine and swerve onto the new ramp at the last second.
Friday morning around 6:30, workers rolled away the barriers that have blocked this access to the highway from East Columbus Avenue since late 2015.
“It’s a lot better now. Before it took like forever for me to get to work and go back home, but today especially, it’s a lot better,” said Syed Hussein, who works on Hall of Fame Drive but lives in Chicopee. He takes this route every day.
This was especially welcome to drivers trying to get onto I-91 North from the South End Bridge or Longhill Street. Their closest on-ramp, Exit 3, closed last month for construction work.
The ramp reopening came at the perfect time. Before it was open, all traffic traveling down East Columbus Avenue to get to I-91 North was narrowed to one lane near Tower Square, as it still is in that section. That’s because construction continues on the garage ramp into Tower Square.
22News tested the new drive for you. At the top of the on-ramp, the lane ends, so you do need to merge with 91 traffic. There were big improvements on the southbound side, too, this week. Exit 6 reopened to downtown Springfield and temporary exit 7-6 closed this week.
“You can get to it very well and I’m pleased with it,” Gibson added.
MassDOT said more changes are coming this weekend:
- Saturday at 5AM the Exit 7 off-ramp from I-91 South will reopen. This off-ramp takes you down to Hall of Fame Avenue and Downtown Springfield.
- Saturday at 5AM the West Columbus Avenue on-ramp to I-91 South will reopen. This is the on ramp that you can get to via Birnie Avenue or Route 20.
- Saturday at 5AM a second lane on I-91 South will reopen.
MassDOT says this reconstruction project is well ahead of schedule.