I-676/U.S. 30 eastbound across the Ben Franklin Bridge. 12/18/16
Originally named the Delaware River Bridge, the Ben Franklin Bridge is a suspension bridge measuring 8,300 feet in length.34 Two 385 foot high towers4 support the 128 foot wide span which includes a 77 foot wide travel deck, a pedestrian walkway and the PATCO transit line. The two rapid transit tracks runs below the travel lanes. The bridge was constructed over a four year period starting on January 6, 1922. It cost $45.2 million.5
Historically, the Vine Street Expressway represented the northern quadrant of an urban belt system around Downtown Philadelphia. The inner loop included the unbuilt South Street Expressway in addition to sections of the Schuylkill and Delaware Expressways. While the Vine Street Expressway was considered an arduous construction project due to opposition and mounting costs, the South Street Expressway faced stiffer opposition from neighborhood leaders in the communities along the planned route. Ultimately the opposition was insurmountable, and the expressway project was scrapped. A remnant of the scuttled plan is the scaled down exit ramp to Columbus Boulevard from Interstate 95 northbound.
The Schuylkill Expressway southeast into Philadelphia was designated a part of Interstate 80S until 1964. I-680 was also assigned to the Schuylkill Expressway south of Vine Street and across the Walt Whitman Bridge. When the Pennsylvania Turnpike east from Monroeville became a part of newly designated Interstate 76, I-680 was replaced with Interstate 676 in Philadelphia.
As approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) on June 20, 1972, I-76 and I-676 swapped alignments between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. Previously I-76 was routed both along the Vine Street Expressway spur and the freeway south through Camden to Fairview, New Jersey. I-676 followed the Schuylkill Expressway southeast to the Walt Whitman Bridge and Gloucester City, New Jersey. The designations were switched as the Vine Street Expressway was incomplete at the time and still many years away from completion.
A $64.8 million project replaced seven two-span bridges across the Vine Street Expressway in Philadelphia with single span structures. Started in April 2015, the four year project replaced the overpasses at 22nd Street, 21st Street, Benjamin Franklin Parkway / 20th Street, 19th Street, 18th Street and the Free Library and Family Court pedestrian bridges. Work also included repaving the roadway and making aesthetic improvements.6