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 in both directions, connecting to the Ohio Turnpike in the west and the New Jersey Turnpike in the east. Just after the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1958, the majority of the Turnpike became a part of I-80S. This changed in 19642, when I-80S was dropped along the toll road from Monroeville east to Gloucester City, New Jersey in favor of newly designated Interstate 76.
Until 1964, eastern Pennsylvania loops and spurs from I-80S were given the designations of I-180, I-280, I-480 and I-680. These later became I-176, I-276, I-476 and I-676 respectively when I-76 was extended eastward along the PA Turnpike to Exit 326 (I-276), and along the Schuylkill Expressway (former PA 43) 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 the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The same AASHTO meeting renumbered what was I-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 superhighway 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