Interstate 279 represents the original "in-city" routing of Interstate 79 through Pittsburgh.
Interstate 376 was extended west from downtown Pittsburgh onto the Parkway West with Interstate 279 in June 2009. Signs for both routes are to remain for an adjustment period, after which Interstate 279 will be officially truncated to the former west end interchange of Interstate 376.
Interstate 279 originates at the Interstate 79 and U.S. 22-30 interchange near Carnegie, then extends northeast through the vicinity of Crafton and Green Tree with Interstate 376 before entering Pittsburgh. After passing through the Fort Pitt Tunnel to bore under Mount Washington, Interstates 279 & 376 crosses the Monongahela River to enter downtown Pittsburgh. Stay left on the Fort Pitt Bridge to continue north on Interstate 279, which becomes the Parkway North upon passing the Interstate 376 interchange. Continuing across the Allegheny River, Interstate 279 continues north past Bellevue and Westview before rejoining Interstate 79 near Franklin Park.
Eastbound Interstate 376 / Northbound Interstate 279 (Penn-Lincoln Parkway West) and U.S. 22-30 east enters the Fort Pitt Tunnel, which opened to traffic on September 1, 1960.4 Nearly two-thirds of a mile long (3614 feet long), the tunnel passes under Mount Washington and emerges on the Fort Pitt Bridge. Upon crossing the bridge, the freeway enters downtown Pittsburgh, also known as the Golden Triangle. Photo taken 10/31/04.
Interstate 279 provides metropolitan access from Interstate 79 into Pittsburgh. The Parkway West segment, which is cosigned with Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30, is much older than the Parkway North section of Interstate 279. The Parkway North section was constructed in the mid to late 1980s while the Parkway West was constructed in the 1950s. The Fort Pitt Bridge opened in 1959 and the Fort Pitt Tunnel opened in 1960. Both elements were incorporated into the Interstate system in the 1960s.3 A roadtrip through the area in June 1989 revealed ghost ramps at the then future northern terminus.
An 11-year $200 rehabilitation project of the Parkway West alignment of Interstates 279 & 376 is now complete. The multi-year project culminated with the October 1, 2003 opening of the the two-lane ramp taking inbound Parkway West traffic to the outbound Parkway East. The final two year $84.2 million project opened two weeks ahead of schedule. Otherwise the multi-year project includes improvements to the Fort Pitt Tunnel, Fort Pitt Bridge, and other associated ramps of the freeway The construction culminated with the opening of the 2,500 foot ramp that carries Interstate 279 northbound / 376 east motorists from the Fort Pitt Bridge east to Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30 east, the Penn-Lincoln Parkway East.3 The two-lane ramp crosses over Monongahela Wharf. Additionally the Stanwix Street off-ramp on Interstate 376 east opens to traffic in conjunction with the Fort Pitt Bridge ramp opening. Since 1993 various portions of Interstate 279, including the tunnel and bridge, had been closed for major road work.2
A $65 million project completed in late 2008 expanded Parkway West from four to six lanes along a 1.5-mile stretch in the vicinity of Interstate 79. Included was the construction of two ramps missing from the original 1970s construction. The then $17 million interchange was one of the most expensive in the state at the time. To cut costs, two ramps were eliminated from the final design, based upon the assumption that traffic could use Pennsylvania 60 instead for the movements north to Pittsburgh International Airport.1
One of the new ramps connects Interstate 79 south to the Parkway West westbound. The 640 foot facility crosses over Campbells Run Road. The second 1,500-foot ramp allows traffic on the Parkway West eastbound to access Interstate 79 north. Benefits to the construction of these ramps include a 35% reduction in traffic on nearby Pennsylvania 60/Steubenville Pike.1
The Fort Pitt Tunnel, which carries Interstate 376 east & 279 north through Mount Washington, opens up to reveal downtown Pittsburgh, with the Fort Pitt Bridge (yellow tied arch bridge) immediately carrying travelers over the Monongahela River. This picture does not do the entrance to Pittsburgh justice, but it is never tiresome to enter this famous American city with such incredible views that are all but hidden by Mount Washington and the tunnels. Just a short distance west of here, the Monongahela River flows into the Allegheny River to become the Ohio River. All through traffic to Interstate 279 north must quickly merge left; the right three lanes will all exit onto Interstate 376/Penn-Lincoln Parkway east or to various downtown city streets. Photo taken by Andy Field (11/01/04).
With the proposed extension of Interstate 376, Interstate 279 is planned to be cut back to a new southern terminus at the current Interstate 279 and Interstate 376 interchange. This shortening of Interstate 279 is likely to occur in fall 2009 as motorists adjust to the Interstate 376 designation along the Parkway West.
Perspective from Interstate 376 west / 279 south & U.S. 22-30 west
Now traveling west on Interstate 376, the first guide signage for Interstate 79 appears just after Exit 2, Junction Pennsylvania 50 to Carnegie and before Exit 1B for Rosslyn Farms. After Exit 1A (Junction Interstate 79), Interstate 279 ends and U.S. 22-30 continue west toward Pittsburgh International Airport. Photo taken 10/31/04.
What was the final reassurance shield assembly for Interstate 279 and U.S. 22-30 is posted as the freeway crosses Pennsylvania 50/Noblestown Road and Chartiers Creek. The city of Carnegie sits in the valley below. The viaduct continues across the valley until the freeway reaches the Rosslyn Farms exit. Photo taken 10/31/04.
After crossing Carnegie and Chartiers Creek, a second guide sign advises of the exit for Rosslyn Farms. The interchange with Interstate 79 is only three-quarters of a mile ahead. Photo taken 10/31/04.
Westbound Interstate 376 and westbound U.S. 22-30 (Penn-Lincoln Parkway West) reach Exit 1B, Rosslyn Farms. The next exit is Exit 1A, Junction Interstate 79 north to Erie and south to Washington. The left two lanes continue through the interchange to follow U.S. 22-30 west to Moon Township and Pittsburgh International Airport. Photo taken 10/31/04.
An END Interstate 279 shield assembly was posted just prior to the Interstate 79 exit. Photo taken 10/31/04.
The right two lanes depart to Interstate 79, while the left two lanes continue west as Interstate 376 & U.S. 22-30. U.S. 22 will continue west through Weirton, West Virginia, before entering the Buckeye State of Ohio, serving the cities of Steubenville and Cambridge, where it meets Interstate 70. Meanwhile, the Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30) travels west to Chester, West Virginia, then crosses the Ohio River to enter East Liverpool, Ohio. U.S. 30 serves as a major east-west corridor across Ohio, carrying some freeway alignments west almost to Indiana. Photo taken 10/31/04.
Perspective from Interstate 376 & U.S. 22-30 east
Continuing east on Interstate 376 & U.S. 22-30 after their merge, this was the first signage for the pending interchange with Interstate 79 and Interstate 279. Signage through this corridor changed with the December 2008 completion of the northbound on-ramp to Interstate 79. Photo taken 10/28/04.
A historical look at the Interstate 376 & U.S. 22-30 east approach to Interstates 79 and 279. The left two lanes carry Interstate 376 east / 279 north and U.S. 22-30 east onto the Parkway West en route to Pittsburgh, while the right lane prepared to depart to Interstate 79 south to Washington. This interchange is now full service with the addition of the two missing ramps in late 2008. Photo taken 10/31/04.
Eastbound U.S. 22/30 reached Exit 1, Junction Interstate 79 south to Washington. There was no direct connection currently to Interstate 79 north until December 2008; that movement was previously accomplished via Pennsylvania 60/Steubenville Pike. From here, Interstate 279 began its northerly journey toward downtown Pittsburgh and the North Shore. Photo taken 10/28/04.
Perspective from Interstate 376 east / 279 north & U.S. 22-30 (Future Interstate 376) east
What was the first reassurance shield for northbound Interstate 279 and eastbound U.S. 22-30 (Penn-Lincoln Parkway West), posted in the middle of the Interstate 79 interchange. Photo taken 10/31/04.
An END Interstate 279 shield assembly is posted on northbound Interstate 279/Parkway North as the freeway merges onto Interstate 79 north. This marks the northern terminus of Interstate 279. Photo taken by Patrick Lilja (2006).
Perspective from Interstate 79 south
Approaching the split of Interstate 79/279 on Interstate 79 Southbound. The center lane is optional for both southbound Interstates. Photo taken 10/01.
Beginning of Interstate 279 to the left on Interstate 79 Southbound. There is no access from Interstate 79 north to Interstate 279 south. Photo taken 10/01.
"Lack of money delaying construction of missing Parkway West/I-79 ramps." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 17, 2003.
"Fort Pitt Bridge ramp to Parkway East opens on Oct. 1." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 17, 2003.
"Fort Pitt ramp to Parkway East to open." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 1, 2003.