Interstate 279 Pennsylvania

Interstate 279 Pennsylvania
History
North End
South End

Overview

Originating at the Fort Pitt Bridge east end by the Point in Pittsburgh, Interstate 279 is an urban loop joining Downtown with Franklin Park in the northern suburbs. I-279 spans the Allegheny River across the Fort Duquesne Bridge to join Parkway North by Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL franchise) and PNC Park (home of the Pittsburgh Pirates MLB franchise) along the North Shore. Parkway North turns northward at East Allegheny and continues past Bellevue and Westview to connect with Interstate 79.

Prior to June 2009, Interstate 279 extended west from Downtown Pittsburgh onto Parkway West via the Fort Pitt Bridge to I-79 near Carnegie. This route traveled through the vicinity of Crafton and Green Tree, and under Mount Washington via the Fort Pitt Tunnel. It was replaced by a northwestern extension of Interstate 376, following an interim period of cosignage along Parkway West.

I-279 Fort Duquesne Bridge - Pittsburgh, PA
Painted Aztec Gold like the nearby Fort Pitt Bridge, the Fort Duquesne Bridge (I-279) spans the Allegheny River in this scene looking south from the Three Rivers Heritage Trail along the north banks of the river. Photo taken June 13, 2010.

History

The Parkway West segment, which is now designated as Interstate 376 and U.S. 22-30, is much older than the Parkway North section of I-279. Parkway North was constructed in the mid to late 1980s while Parkway West was constructed in the 1950s. The Fort Pitt Bridge opened in 1959 and the Fort Pitt Tunnel opened in 1960. Both were incorporated into the Interstate system in the 1960s.1 A road trip through the area in June 1989 revealed stub ramps at the then future northern terminus.

Starting in 1993, various portions of Interstate 279, including the Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel, closed for major road work as part of a long term rehabilitation project along Parkway West.2 The $200 million project culminated with the October 1, 2003 opening of the two-lane, 2,500 foot long ramp taking inbound Parkway West traffic to the outbound Parkway East over Monongahela Wharf. The final two year $84.2 million project finished two weeks ahead of schedule. Additionally the Stanwix Street off-ramp on Interstate 376 east opened to traffic in conjunction with the Fort Pitt Bridge ramp.3 The multi-year project included improvements to the Fort Pitt Tunnel, Fort Pitt Bridge, and other associated ramps along the freeway.

Route Information

  • North End – Franklin Park, PA

  • South End – Pittsburgh, PA

  • Mileage – 13.32

  • Cities – Pittsburgh

  • JunctionsI-376 I-579 I-79

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

I-279 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Location Vehicles per day
Fort Duquesne Br 28,000
Exits 1C to 1D 28,000
I-579 to Exit 3 45,000
Exits 5 to 7 70,000
Exits 7 to 8 65,000
Exits 8 to I-79 47,000
Pittsburgh – 1968 Pennsylvania Official Highway Map.

Prior to 1970, Interstate 279 was proposed as the bypass for through traffic along Interstate 79 between Washington and Erie, Pennsylvania. I-79 was relocated to the west as the suburban route was completed much sooner than the Parkway North section.

A $67.5 million project through Spring 2009 expanded Parkway West to six and eight lanes along a 1.5-mile stretch in the vicinity of Carnegie. Construction also lowered a hill by as much as eight feet to improve safety and added two ramps omitted from the mid-1970s construction of the interchange linking I-79 and 279. The original $17 million exchange was one of the most expensive in the state at the time and two ramps were dropped from the final design to cut costs. Their removal was also based upon traffic being directed onto PA 60 (Steubenville Pike) from I-79 south to Pittsburgh International Airport. Steubenville Pike was vastly more rural then with upgrades planned to handle airport bound traffic.4,5

Opened in November 2008, the new ramp connecting Interstate 79 south to the Parkway West westbound includes a 640 foot long flyover over Campbells Run Road. The new ramp linking Parkway West eastbound with Interstate 79 north includes a 1,500 foot long flyover over both freeways. Opening of these ramps was forecast to bring a 35% reduction in traffic on nearby PA 60 (Steubenville Pike).4

Numbering Changes

Several changes were made to the Pittsburgh’s Interstates during the first 15 years of the system. For Interstate 279, the route was initially proposed as a western bypass of Pittsburgh, with the I-79 mainline looping east to Downtown via the Fort Duquesne Bridge and Penn Lincoln Parkway West to Carnegie. A succeeding change took place on June 30, 1970, with AASHTO approval of the following:

  • Reroute Interstate 79 onto its current alignment west of Pittsburgh
  • Reassign I-279 to the Parkway North section of the urban loop between the Fort Pitt Bridge at the Point and I-79 at Franklin Park
  • Renumber Parkway West as a westward extension of Interstate 76 (the Pennsylvania Turnpike mainline northwest from Monroeville was still a part of Interstate 80S).

Interstate 279 was extended westward over Parkway West the following year as approved by AASHTO on December 3. I-279 overtook I-76 west from the Fort Pitt Bridge to I-79, as I-76 was reassigned to the remainder of the PA Turnpike northwest to Ohio and Parkway East was renumbered as new Interstate 376. This configuration remained in place until 2009, when I-376 was designated over Parkway West as part of its 70-mile extension to I-80 near the borough of Wheatland.

North End I-79 – Franklin Park, Pennsylvania

I-279 North at I-79

I-279 north at I-79 - 2006

An end I-279 shield assembly stands along side the northbound transition ramp to Interstate 79 north. This sign was replaced by 2010. Photo taken by Patrick Lilja (2006).

I-279 north at I-79 - Franklin Park, PA

I-79 advances north six miles from the wye interchange with I-279 to the Cranberry Connector with the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76). 09/30/10

I-79 South at I-279

I-79 south at I-279 - Franklin Park, PA

Interstate 79 splits with I-279 two miles south of the diamond interchange (Exit 73) with PA 910 in the borough of Franklin Park. 06/11/10

I-79 south at I-279 - Franklin Park, PA

The three lanes of I-79 south separate with two lanes for both I-279 south through the North Hills to Pittsburgh and the mainline south to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and Carnegie. 06/11/10

I-79 south at I-279 - Franklin Park, PA

A second diagrammatic overhead precedes the wye interchange (Exit 72) with Interstate 279 on I-79 south. 06/13/10

I-79 south at I-279 - Franklin Park, PA

Left Exit 72 to Interstate 279 south parts ways with I-79 south as the freeway turns west to the borough of Sewickley Hills. I-279 serves commuters southward into the Steel City, with the reversible HOV roadway accompanying the route from U.S. 19 as it leaves the borough of West View. 06/13/10

South End I-376 US 22 US 30 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I-376 US 22 US 30 East at I-279

I-376/US 22-30 east at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

The first sign for Interstate 279 (Exit 70C) appears as U.S. 19 north merges onto I-376/U.S. 22-30 (Parkway West) east from Banksville Road. Four lanes proceed 0.2 miles to lane drops at both Exits 69B and 69C. 06/11/10

I-376/US 22-30 east at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

Back to back ramps follow for U.S. 19 Truck/PA 51 (Saw Mill Road) south to the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Beechview, Mount Washington and Beltzhoover, and the continuation of U.S. 19 north along side PA 51 to West End. Two through lanes for I-376/U.S. 22-30 advance east another 1.1 miles to the split with Interstate 279. 06/11/10

I-376/US 22-30 east at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

Interstate 376 enters the Fort Pitt Tunnel through Mount Washington to the immediate east of Exit 69B (U.S. 19/PA 51 north). Beyond the two lane tunnel, a left side entrance ramp from PA 837 (Carson Street) expands the eastbound freeway to four lanes across the Fort Pitt Bridge. A weaving traffic pattern ensues with the mainline separating into ramps for I-279 north and Downtown. 06/11/10

I-376/US 22-30 east at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

Interstate 376 transitions to Penn Lincoln Parkway East via a two-lane ramp as I-279 begins via Left Exit 70C. I-279 partitions with a ramp for Fort Duquesne Boulevard before crossing the Fort Duquesne Bridge to the North Shore. 06/11/10

I-376 US 22 US 30 West at I-279

I-376/US 22-30 west at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

Westbound travelers along I-376/ U.S. 22-30 pass through a tunnel below ramps linking Grant Street and Fort Pitt Boulevard with Parkway East and the Smithfield Street Bridge on the half mile approach to Exit 70C with Interstate 279 north. 06/12/10

I-376/US 22-30 west at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

Three lanes of Interstate 376 west continue below Wood Street as Left Exit 70D departs for Stanwix Street to the Golden Triangle. The succeeding exit departs for Interstate 279 and the Fort Duquesne Bridge. 06/13/10

I-376/US 22-30 west at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

Passing under Market Street, I-376/U.S. 22-30 separate into ramps for the Fort Pitt Bridge and Interstate 279 north (Exit 70C) to the North Shore in a tenth of a mile. 06/12/10

I-376/US 22-30 west at I-279 - Pittsburgh, PA

A narrow two lane ramp elevates Interstate 376/U.S. 22-30 west onto the Fort Pitt Bridge ahead of Mount Washington and Westwood while Exit 70C lowers to merge onto the left side of I-279 as it passes through Point State Park. 09/30/10

Historic Southern Terminus – I-79 US 22 US 30 – Carnegie, Pennsylvania

I-279 South US 22 US 30 West at I-79

I-279 south / US 22-30 west at I-79 - 2004

Interstate 279 (Parkway West) south lowered across Chartiers Creek on the one mile approach to then Exit 1A with I-79. This set of signs was still in use as of 2015. 10/31/04

I-279 south / US 22-30 west at I-79 - 2004

Interstate 279 south and U.S. 22-30 west traveled through northern reaches of the borough of Carnegie just ahead of the Rosslyn Road off-ramp (Exit 1B). Signs here also remained in use for I-376 west in 2015, though with greenouts for Exits 64B/A. 10/31/04

I-279 south / US 22-30 west at I-79 - 2004

Traffic along I-279 south & U.S. 22-30 (Penn-Lincoln Parkway West) west entered a wye interchange (Exit 1B) for Rosslyn Farms just ahead of the ramps (Exit 1A) for Interstate 79 north to Erie and south to Washington. Sign changes made here by 2009 greened out U.S. 22/30 in favor of I-376 west for the freeway mainline to Moon Township and Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). 10/31/04

I-279 south / US 22-30 west at I-79 - 2004

An end I-279 shield assembly was posted just prior to the Interstate 79 exit. 10/31/04

I-279 south / US 22-30 west at I-79 - 2004

Motorists bound for I-79 departed in unison from the ending Interstate 279 at Exit 1A. Changes made here by 2013 expanded the I-376 mainline to three lanes.
U.S. 22 continues west through Weirton, West Virginia, before entering Ohio, where it serves the cities of Steubenville and Cambridge. Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30) travels west to Chester, West Virginia, then across the Ohio River to East Liverpool, Ohio. 10/31/04

US 22 US 30 East at I-79 I-279

US 22/30 east at I-79/279 - 2004

This scene looking one quarter mile ahead of the then unnumbered ramp for I-79 south to Washington changed during 2007-08 construction to both widen Penn Lincoln Parkway West and add the missing ramps between I-79 and I-279. Three eastbound lanes continue through here as part of the I-376 mainline now. 10/31/04

US 22/30 east at I-79/279 - 2004

U.S. 22/30 east at the former transition onto the northbound beginning of Interstate 279. Prior to November 2008, there was no northbound access to I-79 from this direction. This missing movement was previously accomplished via PA 60 (Steubenville Pike) east through Robbinsville township. 10/31/04

Sources:

  1. Fort Pitt Tunnel – Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA (Bruce S. Cridlebaugh).
  2. “Fort Pitt Bridge ramp to Parkway East opens on Oct. 1.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 17, 2003.
  3. “Fort Pitt ramp to Parkway East to open.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 1, 2003.
  4. “Lack of money delaying construction of missing Parkway West/I-79 ramps.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 17, 2003.
  5. “‘Missing Links’ Take Shape at I-79/Parkway West – After 30 Years, PennDOT Poised to Open New Ramps and Widen the Parkway to Mitigate Rush Hour Traffic.” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 2, 2008.

Page updated January 13, 2020.