Interstate 76 (Eastern)
The Eastern Interstate 76 forms a major 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 I-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 I-295 and the North South Freeway (NJ Route 42) at the boroughs of Bellmawr and Mt. Ephraim. The interchange at the junction includes 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 replaced the ramp from I-76 east to I-295 east, started in Summer 2014 and was completed in Fall of 2017. The second phase also rebuilt 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 Spring 2020 to Winter 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, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-76 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
Source: Pennsylvania Traffic Volume Map 2017 (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 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 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
East End – Bellmawr, New Jersey
Construction through fall 2017 replaces the ramp (Exit 1B) for I-295 north with a new flyover. Interstate 295 connects with New Jersey 168 (Black Horse Pike) in east Bellmawr nearby. There is no direct access between the North South Freeway and New Jersey Turnpike, with a Breezewood connection instead made via NJ 168. Photo taken 12/18/16.
The southbound mainline of I-295 makes a sweeping curve to run along the west side of Interstate 76 below the Browning Road overpass. Presently Exit 1A takes motorists from I-76 east to I-295 south via a left-hand ramp. Contract 3 construction will remove this ramp and replace it with a right-hand ramp as I-295 is relocated onto an elevated roadway spanning the North South Freeway. Photo taken 12/18/16.
/ North South Freeway north at
Pull through panels indicate the pending transition of Route 42 north into I-76 west. Forthcoming Exit 1B was added during Contract 1 work between 2013 and 2016. The ramp circumvents the I-295 northbound overpass to join the freeway on the outside lanes, eliminating a weaving traffic pattern from the original Local / Express setup of I-76. 12/18/16
I-76 west and I-295 north run side by side, but no longer overlap. A slip ramp provides access to I-76 west to I-676 and Camden and the Walt Whitman Bridge into Philadelphia. The remaining lanes carry I-295 east en route to Trenton. 12/18/16
South at / North South Freeway
I-295 travels west from Route 168 (Black Horse Pike) to Left Exit 26 for Interstate 76 west. This changed during Contract 3, when I-295 was realigned to the south. 12/18/16
East End Throwback
A sharp ramp carried the northbound mainline of I-295 across the North South Freeway. The adjacent Local Lanes merged directly with Interstate 295, resulting in a short overlap and weaving traffic pattern. 10/13/01
West End – Seville, Ohio
West End Throwback
- “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 17, 2020.