Interstate 376 Pennsylvania
Interstate 376 originally ran along just the Penn-Lincoln Parkway East through Pittsburgh to the eastern suburbs of Edgewood, Forest Hills and Churchill. The freeway follows the Monongahela River initially, then turns away from the river via the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. Often referred to as the Parkway East, the parkway predated the Interstate system as U.S. 22 & 30 to connect Pittsburgh with the Pennsylvania Turnpike mainline at Monroeville.
In June 2009, the route was extended over Interstate 279 onto Parkway West to I-79 near Carnegie in preparation for its northward extension to Interstate 80 near Sharon. With that action, Interstate 376 carries U.S. 22 (William Penn Highway) for its entire length along the Penn-Lincoln Parkway, and U.S. 30 (Lincoln Highway) from Wilkinsburg to Moon Run. Both U.S. routes are well-signed (except that the continuation of U.S. 22 & 30 west onto the Fort Pitt Bridge is unmarked).
Further extension of I-376 replaced the Pennsylvania 60 (Airport Expressway) from Robinson Township, around Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), to Beaver Falls. Further lengthening of the route took place in November 2009, with Interstate 376 overlaying the tolled Beaver Valley Expressway, which is maintained by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and the New Castle bypass, to end at Interstate 80, five miles east of the Ohio state line.
The expressway / arterial route of Pennsylvania 60 Business to Pittsburgh International Airport vicinity was redesignated Business Loop I-376 with the westward extension of the I-376 mainline. PA 60 otherwise was truncated north of I-376 and U.S. 22 & 30, leaving just a 9.4 mile route east to U.S. 19 in Pittsburgh. The 5.5 mile spur of PA 60 north from I-80 into Sharon was redesignated as Pennsylvania 760.
Interstate 376 connects with Pennsylvania Turnpike 576 (Findlay Connector) near Penn Hills and Monroeville. PA 576 is the Southern Beltway, a planned toll road bypassing much of the Pittsburgh area to the south between I-376 near PIT Airport and Interstate 376 at Monroeville. The segment leading southwest from Interstate 376 to U.S. 22-30 (William Penn Highway) opened to traffic on October 11, 2006.
High Priority Corridor
Interstate 376 in its entirety is part of High Priority Corridor 79: Interstate 376; its designation was written into law.
East End – Monroeville, PA
West End – Sharon, PA
Mileage – 78.70
Cities – Pittsburgh, Monroeville, Wilkinsburg
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2017 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-376 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|Ft Pitt Tunnel||92,000|
|east of Ft Pitt Br||23,000|
|Squirrel Hill Tunnel||83,000|
Source: 2017 PennDOT Traffic Volume Maps
Construction of Interstate 376 began in 1946 on the Penn-Lincoln East Parkway, followed by work commencing on the Squirrel Hill Tunnel in 1948. The first section opened to traffic in June 1953, including the tunnel. Work continued until 1959 on the parkway with additional work, linking the parkway with the Pennsylania Turnpike underway between 1961 and October 1962.2
The Parkway West was constructed in the 1950s as the new alignment for U.S. 22 & 30. Following three years of construction, the Fort Pitt Bridge opened on June 19, 19591 as a local link from Parkway East to Carson Street over the west banks of the Monogahela River.3 Painted Aztec Gold, the tied arch bridge provides 47.1 feet of vertical clearance with a main span of 640 feet in length.4 Concurrent construction was underway on the 3,614 foot long Fort Pitt Tunnel, which bored through Mount Washington and opened on September 1, 1960.1,4
Penn Lincoln Parkway West and East was initially included in the Interstate 70 mainline as it looped north through Pittsburgh from Washington to the Pennsylvania Turnpike at New Stanton. The current route of I-70 between Washington and New Stanton to the south was designated at that time as Interstate 70S while the PA Turnpike was labeled Interstate 80S.
A subsequent application sent to AASHTO a year later resulted in further changes for the Pittsburgh area. Approved on December 3, 1971 were:
- Renumbering I-80S northwest from Monroeville as an extension of Interstate 76
- Reassigning I-76 between I-279 at the Fort Pitt Bridge east end and I-80S at Monroeville as new Interstate 376
- Extend Interstate 279 west over I-76 along the Fort Pitt Bridge and Parkway West to I-79
Also included in the 1971 application was the renumbering of Interstate 876 to 579, reflecting the change of Crosstown Boulevard from a complete loop into a spur with no direct connection to I-376.
Interstate 376 Extension
Discussions on extending Interstate 376 dated back to at least 1994, when officials toured the route.6 On July 10, 2003, a bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives, HR 2695 IH that would legislatively convert Pennsylvania 60 into Interstate 376. The text of the bill, reads:
“To designate Pennsylvania State Route 60 and United States Routes 22 and 30 as part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, and for other purposes.
“SECTION 1. DESIGNATION TO INTERSTATE SYSTEM. Pennsylvania State Route 60 from Interstate Route 80 south to United States Routes 22 and 30 Interchange at Steubenville Pike, Pennsylvania, and United States Routes 22 and 30 from Pennsylvania State Route 60 Interchange to Interstate Route 79 are designated as part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways as Interstate Route 376. Any segment of such routes shall become a part of the Interstate System at such time as the Secretary of Transportation determines that the segment meets the Interstate System design standards approved by the Secretary under section 109(b) of title 23, United States Code. On the date of the Secretary’s determination, such routes shall be designated as Interstate Route 376 and the State of Pennsylvania shall erect signs identifying such routes as segments of Interstate Route 376.
“SEC. 2. REDESIGNATION OF INTERSTATE ROUTE 279 AS 376/279. Interstate Route 279 from Interstate Route 79 east to Interstate Route 376 at Point State Park, Pennsylvania, is redesignated as Interstate Route 376/279. The State of Pennsylvania shall erect signs identifying such segment of Interstate Route 279 as Interstate Route 376/279.”
Note that this bill as written would have created an overlap between Interstates 279 and 376 along the Parkway West and that almost all of Pennsylvania 60 would become part of Interstate 376 (along with portions of U.S. 22-30 and U.S. 422 near New Castle). By adding this mileage, Interstate 376 would nearly triple in size, and intersect its parent (Interstate 76 / Pennsylvania Turnpike) twice.
As of May 2004, it appeared that while the entire proposed Interstate 376 corridor could use upgrades to modern standards, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) may not require PennDOT to spend the millions of dollars necessary to bring the road to modern engineering standards. An engineer with the FHWA indicated that all of those upgrades may not be necessary. FHWA was interested in seeing minimal improvements that would make the corridor safer. As such, the project would be much less expensive than originally considered, and Interstate 376 could have been fully signed by as soon as 2007.7
In May 2005, plans to extend Interstate 376 northwest grew one step closer to fruition. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provided PennDOT with a list of prioritized changes and modifications that were required to be made along the entire 90-mile route from Monroeville west to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) and north to Sharon. The areas of improvements were grouped into four categories, the first three were mandatory and the last could bewaived via justifications from the state:6
- Category 1 — improvement of several sub-standard features of the 90-mile corridor, including guide-rail and median barriers, sign and lighting placements, and right-of-way fences. Cost: $21.8 million.
- Category 2 — improvement of deficiencies that required final designs to be completed and have funding in place for construction. This included the replacement of several older, button copy signs in Beaver County and Lawrence County. Cost: $12.4 million.
- Category 3 — these projects included an improvement to the cloverleaf interchange along the Parkway West at Routes 22, 30 and 60 in Robinson. Cost: $57.2 million.
- Category 4 — consisted of design deficiencies that would cost an estimated $83.1 million to correct but which the FHWA would not require, provided PennDOT makes a case for the exceptions.
Some officials wanted to see the Interstate 376 designation approved by the FHWA immediately, with a subsequent commitment to address those issues over time. The rational behind an extended I-376, was that travelers to the region would benefit from the reduced confusion that a single route number over the 90-mile corridor would provide. Additionally, supporters touted the potential economic development along a simplified route in place of the previous six routes between Sharon and Monroeville.8 A third benefit cited was that a single route number (I-376) would ease directions to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT).
On August 10, 2005, the extension of Interstate 376 from Downtown Pittsburgh to Interstate 76 via Interstate 279, U.S. 22-30, and Pennsylvania 60 was made an official Future Interstate Corridor as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The section of Pennsylvania 60, from Interstate 76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) north to Interstate 80, would be added to the Interstate System once the highway meets Interstate standards. Here is an excerpt of language from SAFETEA-LU Section 1308(c), “Interstate Routes”:
(B) INTERSTATE ROUTE 376.-
- (i) DESIGNATION OF INTERSTATE ROUTE 376.-
- (I) IN GENERAL.-The routes referred to in subsection (c)(79), except the portion of Pennsylvania Turnpike Route 60 and United States Route 422 between Pennsylvania Turnpike Interchange 10 and Interstate Route 80, shall be designated as Interstate Route 376.
- (II) SIGNS.-The State of Pennsylvania shall have jurisdiction over the highways described in subclause (I) (except Pennsylvania Turnpike Route 60) and erect signs in accordance with Interstate signing criteria that identify the routes described in subclause (I) as Interstate Route 376.
- (III) ASSISTANCE FROM SECRETARY.-The Secretary shall assist the State of Pennsylvania in carrying out, not later than December 31, 2008, an activity under subclause (II) relating to Interstate Route 376 and in complying with sections 109 and 139 of title 23, United States Code.
- (ii) OTHER SEGMENTS.-The segment of the route referred to in subsection (c)(79) located between the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Interchange 10, and Interstate Route 80 may be signed as Interstate Route 376 under clause (i)(II) if that segment meets the criteria under sections 109 and 139 of title 23, United States Code.’
Interstate 376 would require some upgrades to make it fully Interstate compatible. PennDOT and the FHWA negotiated the terms by March 2006 to bring the complete route to Interstate standards. These upgrades, along with new signs with the new designation, would cost approximately $45 million.9 Improvements were targeted for approximately ten interchanges, specific median and guardrails, and signage. Plans called for Interstate 279 to end at the Fort Pitt interchange Downtown, and Interstate 376 (and U.S. 22-30) to be signed solely along the route of I-279 along Penn-Lincoln Parkway West. Signs advertising Future Interstate 376 were planned for installation by May 2006, with the resigning of Parkway West to I-376, contingent upon funding availability, envisioned for 2008.
To that end, on May 6, 2006, The AASHTO Special Committee on Route Numbering approved the extension of Interstate 376 from Downtown Pittsburgh west to Interstate 79 via Penn Lincoln Parkway West. This action eliminated I-279 from I-79 to the old west end of I-376, though the route remained signed along Parkway West through summer 2009.10
The remainder of Interstate 376 north along Pennsylvania 60 on the Airport and Beaver Valley Expressways was finally designated on June 10, 2009 per announcement from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, District 11-0. The extension coincided with $40 million in upgrades along the corridor.10 PennDOT received exemptions from bringing all of the route to modern highway standards, saving an estimated $150 million in costs. This included keeping several overpasses not meeting the 16 foot, 6 inch verticle clearance requirement. Sign installation and exit renumbering took place throughout summer 2009. Mileposts and shields along the corridor in Beaver County were concealed pending federal approval of the full redesignation.11
A formal ceremony held near the Hopewell interchange in Beaver County on November 6, 2009 finalized the northernmost portion of Interstate 376. Signs for I-376 were unveiled in Beaver County as a $13.7 million project to reconfigure the cloverleaf interchange joining U.S. 22 & 30 with PA 60 near Robinson Town Centre continued.12,13 Sign changes continued throughout 2010, with crews replacing signs along the Beaver Valley Expressway (former PA Turnpike 60) by August 1.14 The Route 22/30/60 project ran through November 2010, with loop ramps removed from PA 60 west to Interstate 376. The completed interchange work at U.S. 22 & 30 and PA 60 earned the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania (ACEC/PA), 2012 Diamond Award Certificate for Engineering Excellence in Transportation.13
East End – Monroeville, Pennsylvania
West End – Sharon, Pennsylvania
Historic Western Terminus – – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- "250 Years of Pittsburgh History." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 18, 2008.
- Pennsylvania Highways: Interstate 376.
- Fort Pitt Tunnel – Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA (Bruce S. Cridlebaugh).
- "Tunnel Fun Facts." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 31, 2002.
- Squirrel Hill Tunnel – Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA (Bruce S. Cridlebaugh).
- "Cost to unify I-376 pieces into one: $91 million", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 17, 2005.
- "Feds close to ruling on making road I-376." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 16, 2004.
- "Plan to turn 60 miles of roads into I-376 advances." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 18, 2003.
- "PennDOT says cost for I-376 redesignation reduced", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 20, 2006.
- "Parkway West becomes Interstate 376." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 10, 2009.
- "Changing signs do a number on Parkway West drivers." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 16, 2009.
- "It's Official: I-376 Corridor Christened." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 7, 2009.
- "PennDOT's Route 22/30/60 Interchange Reconstruction Earns Diamond Award Certificate for Engineering Excellence." Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, press release. March 5, 2012.
- "Effective August 1 New Signage Marks Turnpike 60 Conversion to I-376." Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, press release. July 26, 2010.
- "Interstate 376, Route 318 Ramp Construction to Begin in Mercer County." Pennsylvania Depart of Transportation, press release. March 5, 2014.
Page updated August 17, 2016.