Interstate 76 (Eastern)
The Eastern Interstate 76 forms a major east-west route across eastern Ohio and Pennsylvania. It joins the Philadelphia metropolitan area with Pittsburgh, Akron and Cleveland, Ohio (via I-80). I-76 doubles as the majority of the mainline Pennsylvania Turnpike, and it follows the extreme eastern segment of the Ohio Turnpike as well. Portions both west and east of these toll roads are free, with the exception of the tolled Walt Whitman Bridge across the Delaware River. The Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia carries I-76 southeast from Conshohocken into the City of Brotherly Love. The often congested route predates the Interstate system with completion in 1954.
Parallel U.S. Routes
The eastern Interstate 76 combines with U.S. 224 from Interstate 71 to Akron, Ohio. The freeway shifts north of the U.S. 224 corridor east to the Ohio Turnpike near Lordstown. Angling southeast, the I-76 eventually meets U.S. 30 at Irwin, Pennsylvania. U.S. 30 parallels the PA Turnpike east to Philadelphia. U.S. 322 and U.S. 422 also mirror the course of I-76 east from Harrisburg and Hershey to the Philadelphia suburbs.
I-295/I-76/Route 42 Direct Connection
The eastern end of Interstate 76 ties in with Interstate 295 and the North South Freeway (New Jersey 42) at the boroughs of Bellmawr and Mt. Ephraim. The substandard interchange at the junction uses substandard ramps for the I-295 mainline movements and involves weaving traffic patterns where I-76 and I-295 run side by side. The I-295/I-76/Route 42 Direct Connection addresses deficiencies with ramp geometry, weaving traffic and safety concerns at the interchange. With an estimated cost of $900 million, the four-contract project commenced in March 2013 on initial construction (Contract 1) along I-76 to the north and I-295 as it ties into the North South Freeway from the west.
Contract 1 work wrapped up in fall 2016. Construction on Contract 2, which replaces the ramp from I-76 east to I-295 east, started in summer 2014. Running through fall of 2017, the second phase also rebuilds the exit ramp from I-295 south to I-76 north.
Beginning in winter of 2016, Contract 3 shifts the southbound mainline of I-295 away from a 35 mile per hour ramp onto a new alignment spanning Interstate 76. Contract 4 follows from 2020 to 2023 to complete the elevated roadway for I-295 and the final reconstruction of the North South Freeway.
East End – Bellmawr, NJ
West End – Seville, OH
- Branch Routes – 5
Total Mileage – 435.66
Ohio – 81.65
Cities – Akron, Youngstown
Pennsylvania – 350.97
Cities – Pittsburgh, Monroeville, Somerset, Breezewood, Carlisle, Harrisburg, Philadelphia
New Jersey – 3.04
Cities – Camden
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2017 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-76 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|New Beaver, PA||18,400|
|Valley Forge, PA||47,000|
|King of Prussia, PA||94,000|
|Walt Whitman Bridge, PA||106,000|
Source: Pennsylvania Traffic Volumes 2002 (Penndot)
Prior to the renumbering of I-80S as I-76, Interstate 680 was the designation for the freeway south from Vine Street to the Walt Whitman Bridge. The Vine Street Expressway opened initially between the Schuylkill Expressway and 18th Street in 1959. Completion of the route was delayed until 1991.
One of the first superhighways constructed prior to the Interstate Highway System, the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened initially with 160 miles between Middlesex and Irwin on October 1, 1940, only three years after the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority was created.1 This was a full 16 years prior to the establishment of the Interstate Highway System in 1956.
Between 1950 and 1956, the Pennsylvania Turnpike was extended both east and west, connecting to the Ohio Turnpike in the west and the New Jersey Turnpike in the east. But the route was not always Interstate 76. Right after the creation of the Interstate Highway System, the Interstate 80S designation was applied to the majority of the turnpike in 1958, and it remained as the numerical designation until 19642, when I-80S was dropped in favor of newly designated Interstate 76 from Monroeville east to Gloucester City, New Jersey.
Until 1964, eastern Pennsylvania loops and spurs from I-80S were given the designations of Interstates 180, 280, 480 and 680. These later became today’s I-176, I-276, I-476 and I-676 when I-76 was extended eastward along the PA Turnpike to Interstate 276 (Exit 326), and along the Schuylkill Expressway (former Pennsylvania 43), from I-276 southeast to the Vine Street Expressway in center city Philadelphia.
Additional changes to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-76 came on December 3, 1971, when the remainder of I-80S was redesignated as I-76 west from Monroeville to I-71 near Seville, Ohio as approved by AASHTO. The same AASHTO meeting renumbered what was Interstate 76 along Penn-Lincoln Parkway East through Pittsburgh as Interstate 376, and former I-76 along Penn-Lincoln Parkway West as Interstate 279. These changes also resulted the renumbering of I-876 in Downtown Pittsburgh as I-579.
Interstate 76 remained in this configuration for one year, when AASHTO approved a designation swap of I-76 and I-676 in Philadelphia on June 20, 1972. This decision redirected I-76 across the Walt Whitman Bridge into New Jersey while redesignating the short stretch of the Vine Street Expressway completed at that time as new I-676.
After Interstate 76 was signed on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the entire turnpike was retrofitted with concrete barriers in 1965. Second bores at the Blue, Kittatinny and Tuscarora Tunnels were opened in 1968, bringing the toll road to four overall lanes through these areas.1
Further expansion along the Pennsylvania Turnpike took place starting with construction in 1999 along the cosigned portion with Interstate 70 between New Stanton and Breezewood.
Changes at the west end of Interstate 76 were made between September 2006 and August 4, 2010.3,6 The $76 million4 I-71 and I-76 reconstruction project added high speed ramps to replace some of those associated with the original trumpet to trumpet interchange connection. Direct ramps were added from Interstate 76 west to both directions of I-71, from I-71 north to I-76 east and from I-71 south to I-76 east.5
East End – Bellmawr, New Jersey
West End – Seville, Ohio
- “Pennsylvania Turnpike through the Years,” Allentown/Lehigh Valley Morning Call, 4/18/04 and 04/19/04.
- Pennsylvania Highways: Pennsylvania Turnpike (Jeff Kitsko)
- “I-71 Ramp to Close.” Akron Beacon Journal (OH), October 21, 2008.
- “I-76/71 Ramp Nearly Done – ODOT Sets $37 Million in Projects for Wayne, Medina Roads, Bridges.” Akron Beacon Journal (OH), April 9, 2009.
- “ODOT Digs into Work at Medina Interchange – 3 New Ramps Expected to East I-71, I-76 Traffic” Akron Beacon Journal (OH), April 11, 2007.
- “Officials Celebrate Widening of I-71 – Final Leg of Interstate Project Costs $77.3 Million.” Akron Beacon Journal (OH), August 5, 2010.
Page updated January 6, 2017.