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Massachusetts Turnpike

Massachusetts Turnpike logo. The original logo depicted Paul Revere on horseback with the words "Massachusetts Turnpike" in a circle around him. Sometime in the late 1950's, the logo was changed to a Pilgrim hat and Indian arrow, commemorating the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620. The logo was later streamlined to a simple black Pilgrim hat during the late 1990s.

The Massachusetts Turnpike is the 138-mile long stretch of Interstate 90, which spans Massachusetts from West Stockbridge on the New York border to Logan International Airport in East Boston, and onto Route 1A. The Massachusetts Turnpike is generally known as the "Mass Pike."

The Mass Pike is a toll road; it costs $5.60 to travel from Exit 6 close to the New York border to the Logan Airport. Tolls are collected at toll plazas along the route; motorists can opt to deposit exact change into baskets, obtain change from a toll booth operator, or utilize the Fast Lane electronic toll collection system, whereby motorists install transponders on their car windshields and use special lanes at the toll plazas that recognize the transponders and automatically withdraw the toll amount from the motorist's account.

As early as 1948, the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MassDPW) proposed a controlled-access road to link downtown Boston with its rapidly growing western suburbs. Eventually, this "Western Expressway" was to be the Interstate highway continuing along the US 20 corridor to Worcester, Springfield, and points west. Under the original plan, the Western Expressway, a 7.7-mile-long freeway, was to begin at the unbuilt I-695 and pass through Cambridge, Boston, and Watertown before finally terminating in Newton.

At this time, Boston's economic state was in question as the decline of rail and sea freight, and the lack of modern highway access, effectively cut the city off from the economy. Many, including MassDPW's commissioner, William F. Callahan, saw the expressway as an opportunity to create an "economic lifeline" for Boston. Many state lawmakers liked the idea of a modern east-west highway link, but the state's precarious economic position, aggravated by its heavy debt load, precluded more traditional means of financing the project.

In 1952, Callahan proposed the creation of a new authority to oversee the construction and management of the proposed turnpike. Originally named the Boston-Springfield Highway Authority, it was renamed the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority when legislation was introduced for the turnpike's creation in the State House.