Monday, March 17, 2008


So, you know how Interstate 95 is a really major freeway? Like, it goes from Maine to Florida, and if you live anywhere on the east coast, you spend a lot of time dealing with it. In my four years living in Connecticut, I would do anything possible to avoid it en route to New York. In my year in Boston, it was how you got to either New Hampshire or Providence. In Washington, where I lived for many summers, it forms half of the beltway. If one drives between DC and New York or Connecticut a lot, as I did, it's how you do it. Here in Philadelphia, 95 cuts right through the city, and is how I get to the airport.

Okay. So, there's another freeway here, Interstate 76. Not quite as big deal as 95, but it is probably the most important freeway for people living in Philadelphia and to the west. The "blue route" they call it for some stupid historical reason. It goes along the Schuykill River that divides Center City and West Philly, and is a horrible, traffic-laden misbegotten mess. But it's important, you know? Goes all the way to Ohio ultimately.

So my complaint: this major north-south freeway, and this major east-west freeway, they connect in Philadelphia, right near where I live. The problem? They don't actually connect! You have to exit 95, go over a weird bridge, wait at a light to turn left, go on a surface street for a bit, and then finally you merge onto 76.*

Why doesn't it properly connect like real grown-up freeways do?!! ARGHHHH!

Next in our series: how New Jersey conspires to make it impossible to drive from Philly to NYC.

*I suppose I should admit that they do kind of connect on the other side of the city, but in a ridiculous and completely useless way.


bob said...

Hi Phil,

I have wondered the very same thing for years. As far as I can see, it was a staggering, billion-dollar snafu with (perhaps) roots in local and regional govt graft. Oh well...

But see:

the "official" web site of the junction of the PA Turnpike and I-95. They say construction will be gin this year. I guess we'll see.


KG said...

But at least you have a functioning rail system. Lest you forget!! Unlike those of us who still live in the land of the endless (and functioning) freeway system...

PMG said...

I have to say, I know the Big Dig in Boston was an absolute nightmare for twenty years (and I lived there for one of those years), but I really admire the city for completing re-doing its freeway system. It's hard to imagine Philadelphia ever garnering enough political capital to accomplish something similar.

p.s. You should know, KG, that people here complain about the quality of the existent rail system just as much as people in LA complain about the lack of one! I laugh when they do, of course.

Anonymous said...

i have been on I-76 many, many times! the good ole Penn turnpike. it's the reason i hate, hate, hate roy rodgers with all my might. so many miles and only one place to eat without exiting the turnpike. *sigh* -rf

Dan B. said...

Wait? You're in Philly? That's wonderful!

But just so you sound like a real Philadelphian, the Blue Route is actually 476. It is so named because they had several proposed routes, and the one drawn in blue eventually won, and the name stuck.

If you ever have to drive to Ohio (as I did when I moved), take 80. It's free and pretty and not that far out of the way.

cpo said...

According to my parents (who have lived in the Philly area for 20 years now), the blue route is called that because they had plans to put in a train line (the "blue route") and the traffic announcers started to use that name for 476.

Isn't like 2 miles of 95 closed down indefinitely right now?

Gray said...

If you do take 80 to Ohio, you should know that it's a toll road in Ohio (and Indiana and a little bit of Illinois if you're going to Chicago). Of course, the last time I was on that stretch of 80 was 2002, so it may be different now.