Opening of Route 128, August 1951

  • Opening of Route 128, August 1951
  • "During the 1920s and 1930s, Route 128 consisted of a series of streets which formed a circumferential route from Hull to Gloucester. Wakefield's Route 128 ran along Albion Street, North Avenue, Water Street, Vernon Street, New Salem Street, and Salem Street where it connected to Lynnfield. The idea for a 'circumferential highway' that would connect radial routes around Boston came from Massachusetts Department of Public Works Commissioner William F. Callahan in 1934. Because of the Depression, he could do little more than create a patchwork of existing roadways. A change in administration in 1939 left the project uncompleted in Danvers, until Callahan was reappointed as a DPW Commissioner in 1949. The project was re-christened as the Yankee Division Highway. The Federal Highway Act of 1944 paid for half the cost of the new MA 128, while state and local governments paid the rest. In its original design, the highway was to have four 12-foot lanes (two in each direction) separated by a 24-foot wide grassy median. In 1951, Massachusetts DPW completed a 22.5 mile stretch of MA 128 from Wellesley (MA 9) to Lynnfield (US Route 1 and MA 129). The new section connected the Lynnfield to Danvers section which was built in the late 1930s. The route was extended to the north from Danvers to Gloucester in 1953, and to the south from Wellesley to Dedham in 1955. The highway extended to the Braintree-split, connecting it to the Southeast Expressway in 1958, and to the Rockport rotary in 1959. By the time it was completed, the Yankee Division Highway was said to have cost $63 million in construction and right-of-way expenses. The job was awarded in seven sections. Callahan traced the roadways through farms, fields and wetlands to avoid the center of town. The official opening of the highway featured ribbon-cutting ceremonies in Waltham, Burlington, Woburn and at the Main Street overpass in Wakefield with Governor Paul A. Dever, Highway Commissioner Callahan, and Traffic Engineer Edgar Copell. A dinner for 800 state officials, members of the legislature, contactors [sic], town and city officials, and others was held at the Suntaug Inn, Lynnfield." -- Text from calendar by Jayne M. D'Onofrio.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 2003
  • Photo courtesy of the Wakefield Daily Item.
  • 08-1951
  • [Wakefield, Mass.] : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“Opening of Route 128, August 1951,” NOBLE Digital Heritage, accessed October 19, 2019,


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