Greater City Providence

Anyone Know How/Why/Logic of Route 146?


146 sign photo from

I was driving on Route 146 to North Providence the other day and got to thinking about this road… Exactly how did it come to exist in its current form?? What is the history? And exactly why:

  • Does it have access off of I-95 North, but not South?
  • Does it have access to I-95 South, but not North?
  • What human being could have planned its Charles St and Branch Ave exits?

A Google search didn’t illuminate much. Wikipedia had little to add.

Does anyone know the history of this highway and why it is the way it is?

ALSO: Happy Passover (chag pesach sameach) to all Jewish readers of Greater City Providence!

Next year in Jerusalem (or Providence)!

Bret Ancowitz


  • I think it was one of the first expressways built in Providence, right after Route 10 and before 95. Obviously intended to connect Providence to the then booming Woonsocket.

    A HIGHWAY FOR THE BLACKSTONE VALLEY: During the late 1940’s, the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MassDPW) planned an extension of Route 146 from Rhode Island north toward Worcester. The proposed route was to be an extension of RI 146 (Louisquisset Pike), which was Rhode Island’s first dualized highway.
    This is an odd Expressway. It starts in Providence as the Louisquisset Pike, it has no exit numbers and is four lanes. Once it enters Lincoln it is called the Eddie Dowling Highway. It passes by Lincoln Woods and CCRI. After it intersects with I-295 it becomes a divided highway. It has a stop light with Iron Mine Hill Rd. From there it remains an Expressway until well into Massachusetts, it heads into Worcester, Massachusetts. The RIDOT is thinking of widening it to three lanes from I-95 to I-295.

  • I was trying to find info on bostonroads, I was looking under RI and there wasn’t anything, I forgot that it is in Mass. too.

  • It predates the Eisenhower highway system by two decades, and connects Providence (which had manufacturing and ports) to Worcester (which had manufacturing and more farm availability than Providence), by way of the Blackstone valley (which had rich mineral deposits to support all that manufacturing).

    It’s an American evolution of the Providence and Worcester Rail for automobile culture and truck freight.

  • Let me guess.
    Small Projected traffic volumes 95S to 146N and 146S to 95N were weighed against high urban land costs for a larger interchange.
    It is just as well, I think.

  • There’s no ‘need’ to have access from 146S to 95N, since you could have used 295 or any number of exits to get where you needed to go. Trust me, there’s no need to go ‘south’ on 146 to go ‘north’ on 95, if you’re going to Boston or points north, you take the Mass Pike, which 146 bisects.

    It does have well-marked access from 95 North and South, at the State Offices and Charles Street exits, respectively.

  • 146S to 95N is the quickest way, IMO. Or rather, per my experience – which is a lot. I tried every single possible option, and I hate all those cross routes. Min Spring worst of all. You may think I’m daft, but I’m looping around Kelly’s all the time.

  • My parents live in North Smithfield, at the dreaded intersection with the stop light on 146 (Sayles Hill/Iron Mine Hill Road). To get to my place in Pawtucket from my parent’s house is a bit weird. Mineral Spring is the most direct but full of stop lights. 246 is a good option through Cumberland and Lincoln into CF and Pawtucket via what eventually becomes Lonsdale Ave, but that is a very scenic route as well, with many traffic light stops. Still, I like it sometimes. The expressway way to do it is to get off at Admiral Street, head towards Charles and loop around the Mobil station to get back on 95N.

    The history I have listed for the Milk Can on 146 quickly delves into some history of Rt 146 itself: The milkcan and the Rustic Drive-In are two great examples of the kind of road 146 used to be. Before 95 became the major thoroughfare of choice, traffic between Providence, Lincoln, Woonsocket and Worcester all used this road. I remember a go-cart place north of the Great Road/N Smithfield Exit when I was a kid. The route must have been filled with these “golden age of the motor car” kind of stops.

  • On RT 146 in Rhode Island, what years were the North Smithfield Expressway,Eddie Dowling Highway,and the freeway section of RT 146 from 1-295 to I-95 opened?

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