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Project Profile: Route 3 North

Route 3 North

photo credit: Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway), Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation


Northern Metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts

Project Sponsor / Borrower

Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway)

Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation

Program Areas

Alternative Project Delivery




Route 3 North is an existing 21-mile limited access highway running north and south between the I-95/Route 128 circumferential highway around Boston and the New Hampshire border. The $385 million Route 3 North Transportation Improvements Project was designed to alleviate a number of significant transportation problems on this heavily utilized highway. The project was completed in spring 2005 and involved:

  • The addition of a third travel lane in each direction
  • Creation of median shoulder and a 30-foot clear zone
  • Improvements to 13 interchanges
  • Replacement of 40 bridges

In 1999 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved special legislation to develop the Route 3 project on a P3 basis. The legislation enabled the creation of a special purpose, not-for-profit 63-20 corporation which would use lease payments pledged by MassHighway to issue bonds. Following the award of the Route 3 procurement to Modern Continental, the legislature established the Route 3 North Transportation Improvements Association. The Association is overseen by a three person board, with the Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts serving as its chairman. The other two positions are filled by the Secretary of Administration of Finance and a designated member representing Modern Continental.

Modern Continental was responsible for arranging the placement of the bond and retained the services of Salomon Smith Barney and Mintz-Levin to do so on behalf of the Route 3 North Transportation Improvements Association. The Association issued $394.5 million in tax-exempt lease revenue bonds to finance the project on the Commonwealth's behalf. The bonds are secured by a 30-year lease between MassHighway and Route 3 North Transportation Improvements Association. The Commonwealth also made interest payments during the four year construction period. MassHighway's rent payments are made through an annual appropriation and cover debt service and the cost of operations and maintenance .


$385.1 million

Funding Sources

Tax-free revenue bonds issued by 63-20 public benefit corporation (backed by lease payments through an annual appropriation by the state legislature)

Project Delivery / Contract Method

63-20 - Design-build-operate (DBO) contract; best value award.

Private Partner

DBO contractor - Modern Continental Construction Company

Project Advisors / Consultants

Salomon Smith Barney - financial

Mintz-Levin - financial

Hinckley, Allen & Snyder - financial

URS - project engineer



Duration / Status

Completed early 2005

Financial Status


  • Design-build-operating procurement approach cut delivery time from an estimated 9 years to 42 months. It was Massachusetts' first design-build highway project.
  • The requirement of the developer to operate and maintain the road for a 30-year period and then transfer it to MassHighway provided strong incentives for quality assurance and incentives to capitalize on asset management practices to identify an efficient and cost effective maintenance program.

Not available

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