Interstate 79

Interstate 79 West Virginia
Interstate 79 Pennsylvania
I-79 south - Roane County, WV

Interstate 79 intertwines with Big Sandy Creek along west from Newton to Amma in Roane County, West Virginia. 06/24/12


Interstate 79 constitutes a two-state freeway that links Charleston, West Virginia with Pittsburgh and Erie, Pennsylvania. The freeway winds northeast from the West Virginia capital city along a mountainous route to Clarksburg, Fairmont and Morgantown, home of the University of West Virginia. Heading into the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I-79 curves westward toward Waynesburg and Washington for a brief overlap with Interstate 70.

North from there, I-79 bends back to the east through Canonsburg, Bridgeville, Carnegie and other west Pittsburgh suburbs. The freeway bypasses the Steel City to the Ohio River at Corapolis and the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Cranberry Township. Beyond there from Harmony north toward Lake Erie, Interstate 79 travels a rural route to meet I-80 outside Mercer and I-90 at Mc Kean Township. The freeway transitions into Bayfront Parkway to the west of Downtown Erie at the north end.

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 79 largely follows U.S. 19 from Sutton, West Virginia north to Erie, Pennsylvania. The westward leg between Sutton and Charleston partially lines U.S. 119 from Clendenin to I-77 at Charleston. U.S. 119 also intermingles with the I-79 corridor through Morgantown.


Interstate 79 was initially established by American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) on June 27, 1958 to run from Erie south to Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.1 The route south to Charleston was added during the 1960s. Through the Pittsburgh area, I-79 was planned to loop into the Steel City along the alignment of Interstate 279 / Parkway North, while I-279 would have provided the bypass route via the current alignment of I-79 through the western suburbs. This arrangement remain proposed until at least 1968. Also in 1960 Penn-Lincoln Parkway was designated as Interstate 70. It changed to I-76 by 1964 and eventually to Interstate 376. Renumbering of the main Interstates through Pittsburgh took place after it was determined that through traffic needs were more important.

Approved by AASHO on November 12, 1958, the northernmost segment of Interstate 79 between I-90 and the city of Erie was designated as Interstate 179.1 This changed by 1968, if not sooner. The only instance in the Interstate system where a 2-digit route ends as a branch route is in Dallas, Texas, where the north end of Interstate 45 transitions into unsigned IH 345.

Construction of Interstate 79 in Pennsylvania commenced in 1961 and finished in 1979.2

Cranberry Connector

A substandard connection between Interstate 79 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76), known as the Cranberry Connector, required travelers to use PA 228 to connect between two routes. This non-freeway connection and the associated crossing of U.S. 19 nearby generated travel headaches for years. A $44.3 million project conducted by PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission replaced the surface link with a direct freeway connector. Construction included the building of a new collector distributor roadway along I-79 south to PA 228 (completed late September 2003) and a new roadway from I-76 to U.S. 19 and I-79 (completed on October 15, 2003).3,4

Route Information

  • North End – Erie, PA

  • South End – Charleston, WV

  • Branch Routes – 2

  • Total Mileage – 343.46


West Virginia – 160.52

  • Cities – Charleston, Weston, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Morgantown

  • JunctionsI-77 I-68

Pennsylvania – 182.94*

  • Cities – Washington, Pittsburgh, Meadville, Erie

  • JunctionsI-70 I-376 I-279 I-76 PA Turnpike I-80 I-79

Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
* – 3.55 miles on I-70

I-79 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Source: Pennsylvania Traffic Volume Map 2017 (Penndot)

Pittsburgh, PA - 1965
Pittsburgh – 1965 Pennsylvania Official Highway Map

Once Interstate 70 was relocated from Pittsburgh southward onto its current alignment between Washington and New Stanton, Pennsylvania, Penn-Lincoln Parkway was redesignated as I-79 on the West portion and as the westernmost extent of I-76 on the East portion.

Erie, PA - 1963
Erie, Pennsylvania inset – 1963 Rand McNally Road Atlas

The Interstate 179 designation made it into the 1963 Rand McNally Road Atlas. All other editions showed the freeway leading into Erie as simply I-79.

Northern West Virginia - 1972
Interstate 79 corridor through northern West Virginia – 1972

Two sections of Interstate 79 were completed in West Virginia by 1972: from Jane Lew to Quiet Dell and from McAlpin through the Fairmont area to a point south of Uffington and Morgantown.

 Photo Guides

North End PA 5 – Erie, Pennsylvania

I-79 North at PA 5 / Bayfront Pkwy

I-79 north at US 20 - Erie, PA

Interstate 79 ends 1.5 miles north of the exchange with U.S. 20 (26th Street). 09/30/10

I-79 north at PA 5/290 - Erie

The final mile of I-79 north shifts eastward across Norfolk Southern, CSX and AMTRAK rail lines to PA 5 / PA 290 (12th Street) and Bayfront Parkway. 09/30/10

I-79 north at PA 5/290 - Erie

Exit 183A departs I-79 for PA 5/290 (12th Street) east toward Downtown Erie. PA 290 begins here and overlays PA 5 east to the Bayfront Connector. The state route runs 8.8 miles east to I-90 at PA 430. 09/30/10

I-79 north at PA 5/290 - Erie

Exit 183B follows onto PA 5 (12th Street) west to Millcreek township and Erie International Airport (ERI). 09/30/10

I-79 north at PA 5/290 - Erie

Stretching 415 miles from Springfield township, Pennsylvania to Albany, New York, MSR 5 represents the counterpart of U.S. 20 across Erie County and Upstate New York. 09/30/10

I-79 north at Bayfront Pkwy - Erie

The north end of Interstate 79 transitions into Bayfront Parkway beyond Exit 183B. Bayfront Parkway loops north from PA 5 around the Erie business district along Presque Isle Bay. 09/30/10

PA 5 / Bayfront Pkwy South at I-79

Bayfront Pkwy south at I-79 - Erie, PA

The first reassurance shield for Interstate 79 appears just beyond the freeway beginning from Bayfront Parkway at Lincoln Avenue. 10/09/01

I-79 North End Throwback

I-79 north at US 20 - 2006

Sign changes at the north end of I-79 for Exit 183A added PA 290 east for 12th Street. Photo by Tim Kubat (04/06).

I-79 north at PA 5 - 2006

Interstate 79 north at Exit 183 for PA 5 (12th Street) prior to sign replacements using Clearview font. Photo by Tim Kubat (04/06).

I-79 north at Bayfront Pkwy - 2001

Interstate 79 (SR 79) northbound transitions into State Route 4034 (Bayfront Parkway) formally at milepost 182.4 underneath the 12th Street overpasses. Photo by Barb Bee (06/01).

South End I-77 – Charleston, West Virginia

I-79 South at I-77

I-79 south at I-77 - Charleston, WV

Interstate 79 runs along side the Elk River on a winding course from U.S. 119 (Pennsylvania Avenue) 1.3 miles to the left exit for I-77 north. 06/24/12

I-79 south at I-77 - Charleston, WV

An end shield for Interstate 79 stands along the southwest curving across the Elk River from Yeager Airport (CRW). 06/24/12

I-79 south at I-77 - Charleston, WV

A second diagrammatic sign precedes the three-wye interchange with Interstate 77. I-79 spans U.S. 119 (Pennsylvania Avenue) here. 06/24/12

I-79 south at I-77 - Charleston, WV

Interstate 79 concludes with two lanes continuing onto I-77 south to Downtown Charleston, where it merges with I-64 toward the West Virginia Turnpike. I-77 joins Charleston with Parkersburg and Cleveland, Ohio to the north. 06/24/12

I-77 North at I-79

I-77 north at US 119 - Charleston, WV

A two-lane left exit separates from Interstate 64 east for I-77 north to I-79 through a three-wye interchange northeast of Downtown Charleston. 10/02/10

I-77 north at US 119 - Charleston, WV

Leading away from I-64, Interstate 77 travels above an adjacent street grid along the parallel Elk River to Exit 102 with Westmoreland Road. Interstate 79 begins in one mile. 09/29/10

I-77 north at I-79 - Charleston, WV

Curving northeast, Interstate 77 splits with I-79 at Exit 104 in a half mile. 09/29/10

I-77 north at I-79 - Charleston, WV

Interstate 79 replaced portions of U.S. 119 and U.S. 19 as the main route from Charleston northeast to Clarksburg, Fairmont and Morgantown. 09/29/10

I-77 north at I-79 - Charleston, WV

Two lanes separate for both I-79 north toward Pittsburgh via Exit 104 the continuaton of I-77 north to Parkersburg, Cambridge and Canton, Ohio. 09/29/10

I-77 South at I-79

I-77 south at I-79 - Charleston, WV

The initial diagrammatic sign for Interstate 79 north appears 2.25 miles ahead of Exit 104. 10/02/10

I-77 south at I-79 - Charleston, WV

Interstate 77 navigates through a series of S-curves south to the three-wye interchange (Exit 104) with I-79 north. 10/02/10

I-77 south at I-79 - Charleston, WV

Left side ramps link I-77 north with I-79 north and from I-79 south to I-77 north due to area topography. 10/02/10

I-77 south at I-79 - Charleston, WV

Interstate 77 southbound reaches Left Exit 104 for Interstate 79 north toward Clarksburg and Morgantown. 10/02/10

I-79 North

I-79 north after I-77 - Charleston, WV

The first confirming marker for I-79 stands ahead of the left side entrance ramp from I-77 south to the freeway northbound. I-79 traverses mountainous terrain on the 119-mile drive to Clarksburg. 10/02/10


  1. Interstate system route numbering web site, Stephen Summers.
  2. Pennsylvania Highways: Interstate 79.
  3. “PennDOT touts benefits of Cranberry Connector .” The Post-Gazette, September 6, 2003
  4. Kitsko, Jeff. “Remaining ramps of the Cranberry Connector Opening Right Now.” Online posting, misc.transport.road, October 15, 2003.

Page updated January 14, 2020.