Interstate 176, known also as the Morgantown Expressway, is a spur from Interstate 76 / Pennsylvania Turnpike north to U.S. 422 on the outskirts of Reading. The freeway replaced Pennsylvania 10 and U.S. 122 as the main route between the Turnpike at Morgantown and Reading.
First proposed in 1957, the Morgantown Expressway, or Reading Spur as it was also called, was dedicated on October 23, 1962 by Governor David L. Lawrence in a ribbon cutting ceremony.1 Originally numbered as Interstate 180, when the Pennsylvania Turnpike was designated as Interstate 80S, the $9-million freeway led to the decommissioning of U.S. 122 along a parallel course in 1963. The first contract for the road was awarded on August 17, 1960, covering the 3.61-mile stretch of I-180 between Green Hills Lake and the Reading Bypass (U.S. 422).2
From its inception until 1996, Interstate 176 ended at Pennsylvania 10 & 23 (Main Street) at Morgantown, without a direct connection to its parent route. Eight options to link the two Interstates were considered in 1984, with the most costly a $33-million, 1.5-mile connector road linking new trumpet interchanges, 2.5 miles north of the freeway end at PA 10 & 23.3 Initial work on the Morgantown Connector focused on replacing the original Morgantown Interchange at Pennsylvania 10 with a new trumpet interchange and access road to PA 10 at a point 1.5 miles to the northeast. This $17-million project was completed by November 1990.5 Construction on the remainder of the two-mile Morgantown Connector commenced in 1994 and was completed on September 27, 1996 at a cost of $18.5-million.4 The original I-176 roadway to West Main Street was retained as Exit 2.
A hearing held on December 8, 1966 outlined two concepts to extend Interstate 176 southward.6 One proposal lengthened Interstate 176 southwest from Morgantown along a parallel course 1.5 miles to the south of Pennsylvania 23 to New Holland and Lancaster. Estimated to cost $15.4-million, the 21.8-mile route was thought to initially open as a two-lane limited access highway.7 This met strong opposition due to the duplication of the then proposed freeway for U.S. 222 from Reading to Lancaster. A second highway proposal involved either extending Interstate 176 south to Oxford or widening Pennsylvania 10 into a four-lane expressway. Talks at this time also included building the Morgantown Connector.6
Speed limits along Interstate 176 were posted at 65 miles per hour from 19668 until November 30, 1973, when the national 55 mile per hour limit was imposed.9 All signage was replaced along Interstate 176 as of Summer 2000.
Pennsylvania 10 and Pennsylvania 23 overheads along Interstate 176 southbound. These signs have been replaced, as the realigned section now veers to the left. The right-hand sign is for Exit 1B - Pennsylvania 10 south/Pennsylvania 23, which uses the old alignment. The left-hand sign is now for Exit 1A - Pennsylvania 10 north (Last Exit Before Toll). Vidcap taken 12/95.
Perspective from Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike west
Westbound Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike approaches Exit 298, Interstate 176 north to Reading (Morgantown interchange), one mile. The original Exit 22 trumpet interchange is located just to the west of this location and is all but removed. Photo taken 10/15/04.
Interstate 176/Pennsylvania 10 guide signage on Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike westbound. The first Interstate 176 exit serves Pennsylvania 10, one mile north of its overlap with Pennsylvania 23. Pennsylvania 10 is part of the original U.S. 122 between Oxford and Reading. Photo taken 10/15/04.
Perspective from Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike east
Now traveling east on the Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike between Harrisburg and Valley Forge, this mileage sign provides the distance to Morgantown (Junction Intestate 176, 13 miles) and Downington (Pennsylvania 100, 27 miles). This sign is posted just after the interchange with U.S. 222 near Reamstown (known as the Reading Interchange). This type of signage is common for upcoming exits mileage signs on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (06/24/08).
Several miles ahead is the two-mile advance guide sign for the interchange with Interstate 176 and Pennsylvania 10 (known as the Morgantown interchange) on Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike east. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (06/24/08).
The one-mile advance guide sign follows for Exit 298, Interstate 176 and Pennsylvania 10 (the Morgantown interchange) on Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike east. Traffic to Hopewell Furnace National Historical Site is advised to exit the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Exit 298, the Morgantown interchange. The historic site is located adjacent to French Creek State Park northeast of Morgantown via Pennsylvania 23 east. Pennsylvania 23 connects to the Turnpike via Exit 298; follow the signs for Pennsylvania 23 upon departing the Turnpike. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (06/24/08).
The former mainline of Interstate 176 crosses over Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike east. Interstate 176 used to connect to the Turnpike via an indirect connection at Exit 298; the interchange was revised to provide a direct freeway connection from Interstate 76 to Interstate 176 in the early 2000s. As a result of this new direct connection, a section of Interstate 176 was orphaned but still provides access to downtown Morgantown. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (06/24/08).
A third lane forms for the ramp to Exit 298, Interstate 176 north and Pennsylvania 10. From this interchange, Interstate 176 travels north as a freeway to Reading. Pennsylvania 10 parallels Interstate 176 on the old alignment of U.S. 122 north to Reading. Pennsylvania 10 also travels south to meet U.S. 30 near Parkesburg and U.S. 1 near Oxford. Nearby Pennsylvania 23 travels southwest to Lancaster and east to Phoenixville. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (06/24/08).
Eastbound Interstate 76/Pennsylvania Turnpike reaches Exit 298 to Interstate 176 north to Reading, Pennsylvania 10 south to Oxford, Pennsylvania 23 east to Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site and Pottstown, and Pennsylvania 23 southwest to Lancaster. Photo taken by Chris and Amber Lokken (06/24/08).
Perspective from Pennsylvania 10 and Pennsylvania 23
North Interstate 176 shield along southbound Pennsylvania 10/westbound Pennsylvania 23 at the original southern terminus. This signage was replaced, but still displays the same information. Traffic turning to the right will merge onto Interstate 176 in one mile. Photo taken 07/96.
Northern Terminus - U.S. 422 - Reading, Pennsylvania
Perspective from Interstate 176 north
Interstate 176 ends guide sign, 2.50 miles south of the terminus with U.S. 422. This sign is posted just north of the Exit 7 interchange with with Pennsylvania 10 nearing Flying Hills. Photo taken by Jason Ilyes (05/22/02).
Guide signage on Interstate 176 northbound showing the lane allocation for the pending terminus with U.S. 422. Although there is no exit tab on this particular assembly, U.S. 422 represents new Exit 11A/B and old Exit 4A/B. Photo taken northbound as Pennsylvania 724 traffic merges from Exit 10. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (03/23/02).
Faded end Interstate 176 shield, posted just before the U.S. 422 interchange (old Exit 4/new Exit 11). This sign was replaced with that of the next photo. Vidcap taken 09/93.
Replaced end Interstate 176 shield. The sign bridge in the background is the last for the split to U.S. 422 east and west. The US highway bypasses Reading to the south via a limited access highway of its own. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (03/23/02).
Interstate 176 northbound at the partition to Exits 11A and 11B. U.S. 422, known as the West Shore Bypass, continues northwest three miles into the central business district of Reading. The freeway recently extended westward with a relocated U.S. 222, allowing Reading commuter traffic interests improved access to downtown. Photo taken by Jason Ilyes (05/22/02).
The original text/button copy overheads for the northern terminus of Interstate 176. The replacement of these signs is seen in the above photograph. With the exception of an eight mile at-grade stretch of U.S. 422, the highway is a full freeway between Reading and Philadelphia metro. Vidcap taken 12/95.
Perspective from U.S. 422 east
Interstate 176 south sign on U.S. 422 eastbound. These signs were the last to include Interstate 176 Pennsylvania shields. They are believed to be replaced as of 2002. Just to the south of this guide sign and U.S. 422 is an abandoned bridge over the Schuylkill River. Vidcap taken 12/95.
U.S. 422 eastbound at the southbound Interstate 176 ramp. The main emphasis of Interstate 176 is to link Reading with the Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 76. The highway also replaced U.S. 122 (Pennsylvania 10) between Morgantown and the Reading area. Photo taken 07/28/00.
The original button copy signs on U.S. 422 eastbound at Interstate 176 south. These signs saw replacement by the late 1990s in conjunction with the Interstate 176 resurfacing and realignment project at the southern terminus. Vidcap taken 09/93.
"Governor Officially Opens Morgantown Expressway." Reading Eagle, October 23, 1962.
"First Expressway Contract Awarded." Reading Eagle, August 17, 1960.
"Morgantown interchange plans weighed." Reading Eagle, September 13, 1984.
"Morgantown Connector to open today." Reading Eagle, September 27, 1996.
"Route 10 access limited." Reading Eagle, February 28, 1989.
"Highway Department at Fault in Failure to Improve Route 10." Reading Eagle, January 23, 1968.
"Berks Needs new Route 10 Southward and Before State Rebuilds Route 23." Reading Eagle, December 8, 1968.
"Morgantown Expressway To Get 65 M.P.H. Limit." Reading Eagle, July 25, 1966.
"Speed Signs Altered." Reading Eagle, November 30, 1973.