Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Secret Life of a Highway Interchange

Living in Eastern Massachusetts means for many people trudging up and down Rt 128-Boston's dreadful (but necessary?) beltway. Much of it is also part of I-95, an interstate highway that I have lived within a few miles of for most of my life. To get to most places by car or bus from my home requires traveling eastbound on MA Route 2, then heading south on Rts 95/128. I travel the northwestern leaf of this cloverleaf exchange on a regular basis (more often as a passenger than a driver) and have often wondered about the life within - so I drew a map.
Drawn with colored pencil, I made a separate overlay of the text for fear of ruining it. I used various sources of aerial photography such as Google and Apple as drawing aids. Most features are real but I'm not sure about the swamp. I have vague memories of seeing it (maybe on a wet day) but am not sure it's still there. Fairy shrimp are a species that live in vernal pools, a subject I've mapped in a past job. These are swamps that are dry for much of the year. A swamp trapped inside a highway junction is what inspired this project.

As I've looked more over the years, I have found many other points of interest. The concrete pad at the north end seems to grow and shrink and change configurations. There is a sign for Outfall 1 (though it might say 11, it's hard to read at highway speeds), some raised beds with no obvious purpose and abandoned tires seem to come and go. There are also a few stands of mature trees, even more extensive than what I've drawn, that may harbor some very interesting life within.

If you click on the map, you can see a larger, more clear version. If you click on "Location" below, you will get the Google Maps view of the place. What's hiding in your local highway interchange?

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