You don’t want to miss Exit 3 on the Mass. Pike when you’re headed to western Massachusetts. Way out there, it’s another 30 miles to the next exit.
“Every motorist has a story about missing Exit 3,” lamented state Senator Donald Humason, a Republican from Westfield.
Now there’s hope the long stretch of highway between Westfield and Exit 2 in Lee could be broken up by a new interchange. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is wrapping up a study of the question, and an earlier presentation by officials showed seven different options for a new exit that could connect with local roads in either Becket, Otis, Blandford, or Russell.
The review was prompted by a state law that Humason pushed for to give communities in the area better access to the highway. But the state is only required to study the new exit, not to build it, and there is no clear funding source to do so. Humason said it would likely cost tens of millions of dollars to build a new interchange, but suggested it would be cheaper now than a few years ago, as there is no need for toll booths because of the shift to electronic tolling.
“It could be much more simple and therefore much less expensive,” he said. “And those costs, we hope, would be offset by benefits to businesses and residents and whoever may use the interchange to get into the western part of the state.”
The transportation department declined to comment until the study is complete.