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$21M Federal Grant for Safety Enhancement of I495 Mass Pike Junction

For years, motorists and truckers have had to contend with unreasonably dangerous conditions at the
junction of I-495 and the Massachusetts Turnpike in Hopkinton. One motorist who is familiar with the
area has named it “the Nexus of Hell.” Although changes typically come slowly, especially at the
government level, a $21 Million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation was recently
announced for the re-design and upgrading of this critical portion of the Massachusetts Turnpike. Some
construction has been ongoing and 25% of the project is expected to be undertaken shortly. The
completion date is scheduled for 2026.

As with many projects, delays were caused by the necessity of considering environmental concerns. The
project’s design had to avoid wetlands, the Sudbury River, train tracks, and private lands.

The grant, with the unwieldy name of Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, will go to
remedy certain hazards associated with the intersection that has led to numerous accidents over the years.

The re-design was actually unveiled in 2019 at the Hopkinton Town Hall by State Transportation
officials. Changes will hopefully serve to eliminate weaving that results in bottlenecks and collisions at
the junction.

During peak traffic hours, that includes weekends and holidays, traffic becomes unusually heavy at this
stretch of road. More than 75,000 vehicles pass through the intersection on a typical day. The State has
reported approximately 450 crashes in this area between 2011 and 2015. A traffic official estimated that
an accident occurs here once every 3-4 days.

One problem is the tractor-trailers that are a common sight here since the interchange that connects the
two highways is used by about half of all freight trucks entering eastern Massachusetts. They are forced to proceed slowly when entering southbound I-495 because of the tight radius of the off-ramp, and must take considerable time to get to highway speed. One remedy is to replace the Fruit Street bridge that spans the highway and lengthening the deceleration and acceleration lanes to the exit at Route 9.

The grant is a small part of the overall cost of the project that is expected to be $146 million, all part of a
comprehensive Capital Investment project with costs expected to be around $18.3 billion.

Implications of Defective Highway Design

Governments and their respective agencies that are responsible for roadway design and maintenance have a duty of care to the public to ensure that roads are safe. Designs should consider factors that can create hazards that lead to collisions. For example, on steep embankments or roads that careen downwards there needs to be safety zones or roads off the side for out-of-control trucks whose brakes fail. Curves should account for high speed vehicles so they can navigate them safely. Guardrails and medians prevent errant vehicles from steep embankments, roadside trees, or water hazards, and from motorists who lose control and cross into the opposite lanes of traffic.

Experts in highway design and maintenance are often retained in highway defect cases to show that a
government agency responsible for the design or maintenance failed to take certain factors into account or did not adhere to safety standards, or neglected to conduct the requisite studies. If hazards that were
unknown at the time of the design and construction come to light, then at least motorists should be
warned by having adequate signs of the hazards conspicuously posted.

Highway design cases are difficult to litigate, and only an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer
should be retained to investigate the possibility of holding a government agency responsible for a serious
injury or fatal crash.

In the case of the I-495 and Mass Pike junction, the state has been aware for several years of the design
flaws that have led to bottlenecks, of cars weaving across lanes to gain position and avoid congestion, and of large trucks slowing down and frustrating motorists. This has led to numerous accidents and two fatal accidents in the past few years. Depending on the circumstances of an individual accident, your lawyer and retained expert will have to see if the accident was caused by a flawed design of which state officials have had knowledge for many years, of the possible failure to post certain warning signs, or if
intermediate measures could have been implemented to lessen the chances of an accident while plans
were being drawn to re-design the roadway.

However, motorists also have a duty to exercise ordinary care when driving. This includes slowing down, not taking risks to avoid traffic, and obeying all traffic laws. An aggressive lawyer will look at all
possibilities and see which parties need to be held accountable for an accident.
These are all issues that a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident lawyer from the firm of Burns and Jain
considers when analyzing your own injury or wrongful death claim.

Damages in Motor Vehicle Injury Accident Claims

Damages in any car accident vary greatly depending on the nature and extent of the injuries. Damages
generally include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future income loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Permanent disability
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium

Retain the Law Office of Burns and Jain

At Burns and Jain, we treat each auto accident claim with the same focused dedication. If your accident or claim may have been caused not only by a negligent motorist but also by a highway defect design or
maintenance issue, then you need the experience and resources of a car accident lawyer who has
successfully handled such cases. The lawyers at Burns and Jain have the required experience accident
victims need to get the compensation that they deserve. Call us today at (617) 250-8256 for a free and comprehensive evaluation of your injury claim.