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Interstate 376 Pennsylvania

 

Routing

Interstate 376 is the Penn-Lincoln Parkway East, often referred to as the Parkway East, originally beginning in downtown Pittsburgh and extending east to Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike in Monroeville. In June 2009, the highway was extended west on the Parkway West (over Interstate 279) to Interstate 79 in preparation for its northward extension to Interstate 80 near Sharon. Interstate 376 carries U.S. 22 (William Penn Highway) for its entire length along the Penn-Lincoln Parkway, and U.S. 30 (Lincoln Highway) from Wilkinsburg to Moon Run. Both U.S. routes are well-signed (except that westbound travelers must know in advance that U.S. 22-30 west continue west via the former Interstate 279 south due to a lack of signage). The freeway follows the Monongahela River initially, then turns away from the river via the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

Interstate 376's extension overtakes the Pennsylvania 60 freeway around Pittsburgh International Airport and companion freeway leading north to Beaver Falls. From there, Interstate 376 follows former Pennsylvania 60 Toll (Beaver Valley Expressway) and the New Castle bypass to a north end at Interstate 80 five miles east of the Ohio state line.

Business U.S. 22 in Monroeville could easily be designated as Business Loop I-376, but it's not. Pennsylvania 60 Business in the Pittsburgh International Airport vicinity however will be upgraded to Business Loop Interstate 376 with the westward extension of the I-376 mainline.

Interstate 76 once utilized Interstate 376 through Pittsburgh. The mainline was relocated to the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the demise of former Interstate 80-S in Pennsylvania. Interstate 79 is also nearby, and at one time it was also planned to travel through downtown Pittsburgh. Just like Interstate 76, Interstate 79 was also converted to a three-digit designation (Interstate 279), and Interstate 79 now avoids the downtown area.

High Priority Corridor

Interstate 376 in its entirety is part of High Priority Corridor 79: Interstate 376; its designation is written into law.

Planned Improvements

Interstate 376 now connects with the Mon-Fayette Expressway/Pennsylvania Turnpike 576 near Penn Hills and Monroeville. Pennsylvania 576 represents the Southern Beltway, a planned toll road byassing much of the Pittsburgh area to the south between Interstate 376 near the airport to Interstate 376 at Monroeville. The segment leading southwest from Interstate 376 to U.S. 22-30 opened to traffic on October 11, 2006 as the Findlay Connector.

History of the Interstate 376 Extension

In May 2005, plans to extend Interstate 376 northwest grew one step closer to fruition. Discussions on extending Interstate 376 date back to at least 1994, when officials toured the route.3 The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provided PennDOT with a list of prioritized changes and modifications that must be made to the entire 90-mile route from Monroeville west to Pittsburgh International Airport and then north to Sharon. The areas of improvements were grouped into four categories, the first three of which are mandatory and the last of which may be waived if the state can make a convincing argument that the improvement ought not to be made:3

  • Category 1 -- improvement of several sub-standard features of the 90-mile corridor, including guide-rail and median barriers, sign and lighting placements, and right-of-way fences. Cost: $21.8 million.
  • Category 2 -- improvement of deficiencies that still require final designs to be completed and have funding in place for construction. This includes the replacement of several older, button copy signs in Beaver County and Lawrence County. Cost: $12.4 million.
  • Category 3 -- these projects include an improvement to the cloverleaf interchange of the Parkway West at Routes 22, 30 and 60 in Robinson. Cost: $57.2 million.
  • Category 4 -- consists of design deficiencies that would cost an estimated $83.1 million to correct but which the FHWA would not require, provided PennDOT makes a case for the exceptions.

Some officials wanted to see the Interstate 376 designation approved by the FHWA, with a commitment to address these issues over time. It is hoped that with a lengthy Interstate 376, that travelers to the region would benefit on the reduced confusion that one single route number over the aforementioned corridors would provide. Another potential benefit to the corridor is the promotion of development, based on the fact that it will be easier with just one number as opposed to the six that the route currently entails.1 Finally, the single route number would ease directions to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

On August 10, 2005, the extension of Interstate 376 from downtown Pittsburgh to Interstate 76 via Interstate 279, U.S. 22-30, and Pennsylvania 60 was added an official Future Interstate Corridor as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The section of Pennsylvania 60 from Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike north to Interstate 80 may be added to the Interstate System in the future once the highway meets Interstate standards. Here is an excerpt of language from SAFETEA-LU Section 1308(c), "Interstate Routes":

    (B) INTERSTATE ROUTE 376.-
    • (i) DESIGNATION OF INTERSTATE ROUTE 376.-
      • (I) IN GENERAL.-The routes referred to in subsection (c)(79), except the portion of Pennsylvania Turnpike Route 60 and United States Route 422 between Pennsylvania Turnpike Interchange 10 and Interstate Route 80, shall be designated as Interstate Route 376.
      • (II) SIGNS.-The State of Pennsylvania shall have jurisdiction over the highways described in subclause (I) (except Pennsylvania Turnpike Route 60) and erect signs in accordance with Interstate signing criteria that identify the routes described in subclause (I) as Interstate Route 376.
      • (III) ASSISTANCE FROM SECRETARY.-The Secretary shall assist the State of Pennsylvania in carrying out, not later than December 31, 2008, an activity under subclause (II) relating to Interstate Route 376 and in complying with sections 109 and 139 of title 23, United States Code.
    • (ii) OTHER SEGMENTS.-The segment of the route referred to in subsection (c)(79) located between the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interchange 10, and Interstate Route 80 may be signed as Interstate Route 376 under clause (i)(II) if that segment meets the criteria under sections 109 and 139 of title 23, United States Code.''

On July 10, 2003, a bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives, HR 2695 IH that would legislatively convert Pennsylvania 60 into Interstate 376. The text of the bill, which has not been adopted, reads:

    "To designate Pennsylvania State Route 60 and United States Routes 22 and 30 as part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, and for other purposes.

    "SECTION 1. DESIGNATION TO INTERSTATE SYSTEM. Pennsylvania State Route 60 from Interstate Route 80 south to United States Routes 22 and 30 Interchange at Steubenville Pike, Pennsylvania, and United States Routes 22 and 30 from Pennsylvania State Route 60 Interchange to Interstate Route 79 are designated as part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways as Interstate Route 376. Any segment of such routes shall become a part of the Interstate System at such time as the Secretary of Transportation determines that the segment meets the Interstate System design standards approved by the Secretary under section 109(b) of title 23, United States Code. On the date of the Secretary's determination, such routes shall be designated as Interstate Route 376 and the State of Pennsylvania shall erect signs identifying such routes as segments of Interstate Route 376.

    "SEC. 2. REDESIGNATION OF INTERSTATE ROUTE 279 AS 376/279. Interstate Route 279 from Interstate Route 79 east to Interstate Route 376 at Point State Park, Pennsylvania, is redesignated as Interstate Route 376/279. The State of Pennsylvania shall erect signs identifying such segment of Interstate Route 279 as Interstate Route 376/279."

Note that this bill as written would create an overlap between Interstates 279 and 376 along the Parkway West and that almost all of Pennsylvania 60 would become part of Interstate 376 (along with portions of U.S. 22-30 and U.S. 422 near New Castle). By adding this mileage, Interstate 376 will nearly triple in size, and it will intersect its parent (Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike) twice.

As of May 2004, it appeared that while the entire proposed Interstate 376 corridor could use upgrades to modern standards, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) may not require PennDOT to spend the millions of dollars necessary to bring the road to modern engineering standards. An engineer with the FHWA indicated that all of those upgrades may not be necessary. FHWA is interested in seeing minimal improvements that would make the corridor safer. If that were true, then the project will be much less expensive than originally considered, and Interstate 376 could have been fully signed by as soon as 2007.2

However, by March 2006, it became clear that Interstate 376 would require some upgrades to make it fully Interstate compatible. PennDOT and the FHWA negotiated the terms to bring the complete route to Interstate standards. These upgrades, along with new signs with the new designation, would cost approximately $45 million.4 Improvements have been targeted to approximately ten interchanges, specific median and guardrails, and signage. Plans now call for Interstate 279 to end at the Fort Pitt interchange downtown, and Interstate 376 (and U.S. 22-30) to be signed solely along the route currently signed as Interstate 279 along the Penn-Lincoln Parkway West. Signs touting Future Interstate 376 were planned to be erected in May 2006, and signage of the southern section of the route as Interstate 376 could occur by 2008 (but did not until June 2009), contingent upon funding availability.

To that end, on May 6, 2006, AASHTO's Special Committee on Route Numbering approved the extension of Interstate 376 from downtown Pittsburgh west to Interstate 79 via current Interstate 279. Future applications to AASHTO requesting approval for additional segments of the route will occur as the U.S. 22-30 and Pennsylvania 60 sections are upgraded. In early 2006, signs were erected along the route indicating "Future Interstate 376." Interstate 279 was not truncated with this action, so the interim solution is likely to have both routes signed on this section.

History

Construction of Interstate 376 began in 1946 on the Penn-Lincoln East Parkway, followed by work commencing on the Squirrel Hill Tunnel in 1948. The first section opened to traffic in June 1953, including the tunnel. Work continued until 1959 on the parkway with additional work, linking the parkway with the Pennsylania Turnpike underway between 1961 and October 1962.6

Highway Guides

Built between 1946 and 1953, the Squirrel Hill Tunnel opened to traffic on June 5, 1953. Carrying Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30 under Squirrel Hill, the 4,225-foot, twin-tube tunnel bypasses the neighborhoods east of Beechwood Avenue and south of Forward Avenue.5 Each tube contains two lanes of travel. The tunnel is an integral link between downtown Pittsburgh and Monroeville, where Interstate 376 meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76). Photo taken by Andy Field (11/02/04).

Original Western Terminus - Interstate 279 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Perspective from Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30 west (Penn Lincoln Parkway East)
After Exit 1C, Grant Street, westbound Interstate 376/U.S. 22-30 approaches Exit 1B, Stanwix Street, which connects to the western end of the Purple Belt that encircles downtown Pittsburgh. This exit provides direct access to downtown. What was the final exit from Interstate 376 west is the connection to Interstate 279 north to the North Shore and southwest to the airport. Photo by Andy Field (11/02/04).
The left lane becomes exit only for the connection to Interstate 376 west / former Interstate 279 south and U.S. 22-30 west to Carnegie and the Pittsburgh International Airport. The right lane departs to Interstate 279 north to North Shore destinations. Photo taken by Andy Field (11/02/04).
A new left lane joins Interstate 376 west as the Parkway East approaches the junction with Interstate 279. The right lane becomes exit only for northbound Interstate 279 (Exit 1A), while the left lane prepares to exit onto Exit 1B, Stanwix Street north into downtown. Photo taken by Andy Field (11/02/04).
Westbound Interstate 376/U.S. 22-30 reaches the left exit for Exit 1B, Stanwix Street. This is the last connection to downtown Pittsburgh; the remaining exits connect Interstate 376 to the Parkway North and Parkway West. Photo taken by Andy Field (11/02/04).
The left two lanes of westbound Interstate 376 transition to the Parkway West, along with U.S. 22-30 west. The right lane exits only to Exit 1A, Interstate 279 north to North Shore destinations. Photo taken by Andy Field (11/02/04).
Westbound Interstate 376/U.S. 22-30 reaches Exit 1A, Junction Interstate 279 north to North Shore destinations via the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Installation of Interstate 376 westbound signage for the Parkway West began in June 2009, as Interstate 376 continues in the left two lanes onto the Fort Pitt Bridge. Interstate 279 shields remain cosigned with Interstate 376 west to Interstate 79 during an adjustment period. Photo taken by Andy Field (11/02/04).
Interstate 376 reaches the Penn-Lincoln Parkway East western terminus. The left lane transitions directly from westbound Interstate 376 onto the Fort Pitt Bridge for the Parkway West. U.S. 22-30 also follow this transition, even though they are not signed through the interchange. Exit 5C, which was an exit from Interstate 279 southbound, allows access to the South Shore at the southern end of the Fort Pitt Bridge. Pennsylvania 837 follows Carson Street, which closely follows the southern bank of the Monongahela River. The pair of END Interstate 376 shields featured two state-named shields as recently as 2002, but two shields are now neutered bubble shields and were removed during 2009. Photo taken by Andy Field (11/02/04).
Perspective from Interstate 279 south (Penn Lincoln Parkway North)
Now traveling south on Interstate 279, this signage advises of the junction with Interstate 376 in downtown Pittsburgh. From here, Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30 travel east to Monroeville and a junction with Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike. Photo taken by AARoads (10/01).
Upon merging onto Interstate 376 Eastbound from Interstate 279 Southbound is this scene and signage. Photo taken by AARoads (10/01).
Perspective from Interstate 376 east / former 279 north and U.S. 22-30 east (Penn Lincoln Parkway West)
Two new right lanes join Interstate 376 east as traffic from Parkway Center Drive (Exit 4B) join the flow. These two lanes in turn become exit only for Exit 5B, Junction Truck U.S. 19 and Pennsylvania 51 (Saw Mill Run Boulevard) south and Exit 5C, Junction U.S. 19 and Pennsylvania 51 (Saw Mill Run Boulevard) north to West End and the West End Bridge over the Ohio River. There is no direct access to Exit 5A, Junction U.S. 19 (Banksville Road) south; use Exit 5C to make that connection. Photo taken by Andy Field (10/31/04).
Eastbound Interstate 376 / former Northbound Interstate 279 and eastbound U.S. 22-30 reaches Exit 5B, Junction Truck U.S. 19 and Pennsylvania 51 southbound. The advance signage for Interstate 376 (Exit 6A) here is warranted, because drivers need to be in the correct lanes upon exiting the Fort Pitt Tunnel to ensure they end up on the right road upon entering downtown Pittsburgh. All through traffic for northbound Interstate 279 should stay in the left lane for the next three miles. Photo taken by Andy Field (10/31/04).
Interstate 376 immediately prepares to enter the Fort Pitt Tunnel, which burrows under Mount Washington before emerging at the base of the Fort Pitt Bridge over the Monongahela River. There are fewer highways with more surprises than Interstates 376 east / 279 northbound between Pennsylvania 51 and Interstate 579. Motorists must pay attention to the signs and not enjoy the sights, because of the manner in which exits unfold very rapidly upon exiting the tunnel. So enjoy the peace of the tunnel, because three exit-only lanes appear on the Fort Pitt Bridge with only one through lane for northbound Interstate 279, and motorists must merge left to continue onto the Parkway North. The Fort Pitt Bridge and subsequent interchange with the Parkway East occur in the middle of a very short section of freeway after the tunnel. Photo taken by Andy Field (10/31/04).
The Fort Pitt Tunnel consists of two bores, one for northbound traffic and the other southbound traffic. A total of 3,614 feet long, the tunnel was opened in September 1960 as part of the Interstate 70 (later Interstate 79 and finally Interstate 279) corridor. Prior to the opening of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and during the tunnel closures due to reconstruction, U.S. 19 and the West End Bridge acts as an alternate route. Even though the tunnel is well lit, passing is prohibited within the tunnel. Photo taken by Andy Field (10/31/04).
The tunnel exits from Mount Washington and enters the Fort Pitt Bridge, a golden yellow arch high above the Monongahela River and Pennsylvania 837 (Carson Street) on the south shore. Though only a little more than a half mile long, the Fort Pitt Tunnel often surprises motorists when they see for the first time just how close they are to the downtown Pittsburgh. The skyline of downtown Pittsburgh comes into view as northbound Interstate 279 and eastbound U.S. 22-30 cross the Monongahela River. Two new lanes enter the freeway from the left, as they come in from Pennsylvania 837/West Carson Street on the south shore. Since westbound Interstate 376 rides on the lower deck of the double deck Fort Pitt Bridge, it is not visible. Photo taken by Andy Field (10/31/04).
This the first view of downtown Pittsburgh, which is locally known as the Golden Triangle. Pittsburgh has one of the most scenic downtowns in America, with a skyline, rivers, and mountains. The skyline is nestled in this valley, formed by the confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny Rivers. The exits are fast and furious here. Traffic is merging throughout this area, because the northbound tunnel lanes default onto Interstate 376 east exit only lanes. Northbound Interstate 279 must merge over two lanes to continue onto that route. The two left lanes are new lanes from onramps from Pennsylvania 837 on the south shore of the Monongahela River. Stay in the far left lane to take Interstate 279 northbound! Stay in the far right lane for Interstate 376, U.S. 22, and U.S. 30 (Exit 6A). The other two exits (Exits 6B and 6C) will use the middle two lanes, and they lead directly into downtown Pittsburgh: the second lane from the left leads to Fort Duquesne Boulevard and the Civic Center, and the third lane from the right leads to the Boulevard of the Allies and Liberty Avenue. Photo taken by Andy Field (10/31/04).
The lane configuration on the top deck of the bridge is as follows: left lane #1: northbound Interstate 279 and Truck U.S. 19; lane #2: Exit 6C, Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Convention Center, and Strip District; lane #3: Exit 6B, Boulevard of the Allies, Liberty Avenue, and Mellon Arena; and lane #4: Exit 6A, Junction Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30 east, Penn-Lincoln Parkway East to Monroeville and Junction Interstate 76, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Note the absence of signage for U.S. 22-30: Follow signs for Interstate 376 east. Photo taken by Andy Field (10/31/04).
Interstate 376 east splits with Interstate 279 north at the end of the Fort Pitt Bridge. Northbound Interstate 279 and Truck U.S. 19 (Penn-Lincoln Parkway North) split from eastbound Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30 (Penn-Lincoln Parkway East) at this ramp. The next two exits are Exit 6B, Boulevard of the Allies, Liberty Avenue, and Mellon Arena and Exit 6C, Fort Duquesne Boulevard, Convention Center, and Strip District. Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30 depart to the east on the Parkway en route to Monroeville. Photos taken by Andy Field (10/31/04) and AARoads (10/01).
Northern Terminus - Interstate 80 - Sharon, Pennsylvania
Perspective from Interstate 80 west
The first advisory sign of the pending junction with Pennsylvania 60 (Future Interstate 376 per the SAFETEA-LU Act of 2005) appears on westbound Interstate 80 as the freeway approaches Exits 4B-A, just west of Mercer and east of Sharon. Photo taken by AARoads (09/01/05).
Westbound Interstate 80 approaches Exits 4B-A, Junction Pennsylvania 60. Use Pennsylvania 60 south to New Castle (Exit 4B) and north to Sharon and Pennsylvania 18 (Exit 4A). Photo taken by AARoads (09/01/05).
Westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 4B, Junction Pennsylvania 60 north to Pennsylvania 18 and the city of Sharon. The next ramp in this cloverleaf interchange connects westbound Interstate 80 to southbound Pennsylvania 60 and Future Interstate 376. Photo taken by AARoads (09/01/05).
After passing under Pennsylvania 60/Beaver Valley Expressway, westbound Interstate 80 reaches Exit 4A, Junction Pennsylvania 60/Future Interstate 376 south to New Castle, Beaver, Moon Township, Pittsburgh International Airport, and Pittsburgh. Photo taken by AARoads (09/01/05).
Eastern Terminus - Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike - Monroeville, Pennsylvania
Perspective from Interstate 376/Penn Lincoln Parkway East east
The transition from Interstate 376 to U.S. 22 at the interchange with Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike. Photo taken by AARoads (10/01).
Interstate 376 ends at Interstate 76, the Pennsylvania Turnpike. There is an END Interstate 376 shield here, but it's not shown in this photograph. Picture taken by Jeff Kitsko (3/01).
Button copy signage for Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike after the toll plaza at the Interstate 376 interchange. The Interstate 76 shields still retain the state name. Photo taken by AARoads (10/01).
Fully reflectorized signage at the Interstate 76/376 trumpet interchange. Photo taken by AARoads (10/01).
Perspective from Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike east
Now looking at eastbound Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike, this is the first approach sign for Exit 57, Junction Interstate 376/Penn-Lincoln Parkway East. Use Interstate 376 and U.S. 22 east to Monroeville and Pittsburgh. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/11/05).
Eastbound Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike reaches Exit 57, Junction Interstate 376/U.S. 22/Penn-Lincoln Parkway East west to Monroeville and Pittsburgh. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/11/05).

Sources:

  1. "Plan to turn 60 miles of roads into I-376 advances." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 18, 2003.
  2. "Feds close to ruling on making road I-376." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 16, 2004, by Joe Grata.
  3. "Cost to unify I-376 pieces into one: $91 million", The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 17, 2005, by Joe Grata.
  4. "PennDOT says cost for I-376 redesignation reduced", The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 20, 2006.
  5. Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County: Squirrel Hill Tunnel by Bruce S. Cridlebaugh
  6. Pennsylvania Highways: Interstate 376.

Page Updated August 12, 2007.

 
Mileage

State Pennsylvania
Mileage 14.70
Cities Pittsburgh, Monroeville, Wilkinsburg
Junctions Interstate 279, Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Interstate 376 Annual Average Daily Traffic

County From: To: AADT Composite
Allegheny Exit 1A/ Interstate 279 Exit 1C/ Grant Street 64,000
Allegheny Exit 1C/ Grant Street Exit 2A/ Birmingham Bridge 63,000
Allegheny Exit 2A/ Birmingham Bridge Exit 2B/ Forbes Avenue 86,000
Allegheny Exit 2B/ Forbes Avenue Exit 3A/ PA 885 Bates St. & 2nd Av. 127,000
Allegheny Exit 3A/ PA 885 Bates St. & 2nd Av. Exit 5/ Beechwood Boulevard 127,000
Allegheny Exit 5/ Beechwood Boulevard Exit 7/ Braddock Avenue 127,000
Allegheny Exit 7/ Braddock Avenue Exit 8AB/ PA 8 Ardmore Blvd. 81,000
Allegheny Exit 8AB/ PA 8 Ardmore Blvd. Exit 9/ Greensburg Pike 78,000
Allegheny Exit 9/ Greensburg Pike Exit 10B/ U.S. 22 Business Monroeville 82,000
Allegheny Exit 10B/ U.S. 22 Business Monroeville Exit 11/ PA 791 Penn Hills Rodi 67,000
Allegheny Exit 11/P A 791 Penn Hills Rodi Exit 14AB/ I-76, U.S. 22 & PA 48 Monroeville 67,000
Source: Pennsylvania Traffic Volumes 2002 (Penndot)

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