Interstate 95 in Pennsylvania
Interstate 95 (I-95) is an Interstate highway running from Miami, Florida, north to Houlton, Maine. In the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, it runs 44.25 miles (71.21 km) from the Delaware state line near Marcus Hook north to the Delaware River–Turnpike Toll Bridge at the New Jersey state line near Bristol. From the Delaware state line to exit 40, the route is known by many as the Delaware Expressway, but is officially named the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway. North(east) of exit 40, I-95 runs along the easternmost portion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I-95 parallels its namesake Delaware River for its entire route through the city of Philadelphia and its suburbs. It is a major route through the city and the metropolitan Delaware Valley, providing access to locally important landmarks such as Subaru Park, Philadelphia International Airport, the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, Penn's Landing, and Philadelphia Mills.
Plans for a limited-access route along the Delaware River in the Philadelphia area originated in the 1930s when both a parkway and elevated highway were proposed; neither of these were built. The Delaware Expressway was approved in 1945 as a toll road that was to be part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike system until the project was turned to the Pennsylvania Department of Highways in 1956, with the expressway to be included in the Interstate Highway System as part of I-95. Construction on I-95 began in 1959 and was mostly complete by 1979, with the final portion near the Philadelphia International Airport finished in 1985. The route was originally projected to run through the center of Trenton, New Jersey, but was rerouted to the Scudder Falls Bridge to the north due to limited capacity in Trenton. It remained on this alignment until July 2018 when it was truncated to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, being replaced by an extended I-295 north of there. Upon completion of two new high-speed flyovers connecting I-95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike on September 22, 2018, I-95 was extended to the east into New Jersey toward the New Jersey Turnpike along the former I-276 (Pennsylvania Turnpike).
I-95 enters Pennsylvania from Delaware in Lower Chichester Township, Delaware County, a short distance north of the interchange with the northern terminus of I-495. The ramp from southbound I-95 to southbound I-495 splits immediately north of the state line. From the Delaware border, I-95 heads northeast as a six-lane freeway through wooded areas, passing over PA 491 without an interchange and coming to a northbound welcome center and weigh station. The road enters Upper Chichester Township and reaches an interchange with Chichester Avenue. Past this interchange, the freeway passes near residential areas and comes to the PA 452 exit to the north of the borough of Marcus Hook. I-95 continues east-northeast through woods and passes to the south of CSX's Twin Oaks Rail Yard, an automotive unloading facility. The road comes to an interchange with US 322 and Highland Avenue, with I-95 having a southbound exit and northbound entrance with US 322 and a complete interchange with Highland Avenue. At this point, US 322 becomes concurrent with I-95 and the freeway enters the city of Chester, gaining a fourth northbound lane and passing through urban residential neighborhoods. The freeway crosses into Chester Township and heads near more development in the community of Feltonville before US 322 splits from I-95 at an interchange to head southeast on a freeway toward the Commodore Barry Bridge over the Delaware River. US 322 provides access from I-95 to Subaru Park, the home stadium of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer.
From here, I-95 heads back into the city of Chester and runs between CSX's Philadelphia Subdivision to the northwest and urban areas to the southeast, coming to a northbound exit and southbound entrance with Kerlin Street. The freeway narrows to six lanes and continues closely parallel to the railroad tracks, crossing the Chester Creek into the borough of Upland and passing to the southeast of Crozer-Chester Medical Center. I-95 heads into Chester once again and comes to an interchange with PA 320 and PA 352 as it and the CSX rail line pass under several city streets. Following this, the freeway curves northeast near urban neighborhoods and crosses the Ridley Creek into Ridley Township. Here, the roadway comes to a directional T interchange with the southern terminus of I-476, where it also passes over the Crum Creek. Past this interchange, I-95 widens to eight lanes and turns to the east away from the CSX line, passing near residential and commercial development and coming to bridges over US 13 and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. The road curves east-northeast and enters the southern edge of the borough of Ridley Park, running to the north of Boeing Defense, Space & Security's Vertical Lift helicopter plant and reaching a diamond interchange with Stewart Avenue that serves Ridley Park. The freeway heads back into Ridley Township and curves southeast before coming to a bridge over the Darby Creek, at which point it enters Tinicum Township. I-95 turns to the east-northeast and passes between the creek to the north and commercial development to the south. The freeway comes to a cloverleaf interchange with PA 420 north of the community of Essington, where the right lanes serve as collector/distributor roads for the interchange. Past this interchange, the eight-lane freeway continues between marshland in the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum to the north and developed areas to the south. I-95 heads north of an office park before it reaches a northbound ramp that connects to eastbound PA 291. Past this, the freeway comes to a bridge over Conrail Shared Assets Operations' Chester Secondary and PA 291 (Bartram Avenue).
I-95 crosses into the city of Philadelphia in Philadelphia County, at which point it passes to the northwest of the Philadelphia International Airport. The freeway passes under a ramp to the airport's departures terminal and SEPTA's Airport Line as it comes to the northbound exit for the Philadelphia International Airport terminals and a southbound entrance from PA 291 (Bartram Avenue). The road crosses under a ramp to the airport's arrivals terminal and turns to the northeast, reaching a southbound entrance from the airport terminals. The freeway passes under the northbound ramp to the airport terminals and reaches a northbound exit to PA 291 and a southbound entrance from PA 291 as it crosses under the ramp from the airport terminals to southbound I-95. At this point, I-95 gains collector/distributor roads on each side, carrying a 3-3-3-3 lane configuration. The road comes to a southbound exit to the Philadelphia International Airport terminals and PA 291 (Bartram Avenue) and a northbound entrance from the airport terminals. The freeway passes over PA 291 (Island Avenue), where a ramp connects from northbound I-95 to PA 291 and from PA 291 to southbound I-95. I-95 turns east and the collector/distributor roads ends, with the roadway becoming eight lanes wide. The road comes to a bridge over PA 291 (Penrose Avenue), where there is a ramp from southbound PA 291 to southbound I-95 and a southbound exit and northbound entrance serving Bartram Avenue and Essington Avenue. From here, the freeway turns southeast and heads through industrial areas, coming to a southbound exit and northbound entrance with Enterprise Avenue and Island Avenue, where it also passes over Conrail Shared Assets Operations' 60th Street Industrial Track line. The road narrows to six lanes and curves to the northeast, crossing the Schuylkill River on the Girard Point Bridge, a double-decker cantilever truss bridge.
Past the Schuylkill River, I-95 continues east into South Philadelphia as an elevated freeway, heading through industrial areas to the north of The Navy Yard, a mixed-use development that is located at the former Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. The road passes over CSX's Harrisburg Subdivision and heads between Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park to the north and the railroad tracks and The Navy Yard to the south, coming to an interchange with Broad Street at the southern terminus of PA 611. Past this interchange, the freeway runs between the South Philadelphia Sports Complex to the north and CSX's Greenwich Yard to the south. I-95 continues east past warehouses to the north and the railroad yard to the south before making a turn to the north. The road comes to an interchange connecting to eastbound I-76 (Schuylkill Expressway), which leads to the Walt Whitman Bridge over the Delaware River, and Packer Avenue. The freeway passes under the Walt Whitman Bridge carrying I-76 at this interchange. Past this interchange, I-95 widens to eight lanes and becomes an elevated freeway, running between urban residential areas to the west and commercial areas to the east. Farther north, the freeway comes to an interchange connecting to Columbus Boulevard and Washington Avenue, where it briefly narrows to seven lanes, with three northbound lanes and four southbound lanes, and returns to ground level. Following this, I-95 becomes eight lanes again and passes through the eastern part of Center City Philadelphia. The freeway heads to the west of Penn's Landing along the Delaware River, where it lowers to a depressed level and passes through two short tunnels. Along this stretch, the road crosses under several city streets including Walnut Street, Chestnut Street, and Market Street. I-95 passes under the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which carries I-676/US 30 and the PATCO Speedline over the Delaware River, before it comes to an interchange connecting to I-676/US 30 (Vine Street Expressway) along with Callowhill Street.
North of Center City Philadelphia, SEPTA's Market–Frankford Line rises from the Market Street subway into I-95's median as the highway returns to an elevated alignment, entering one station (Spring Garden) before diverging once more. From here, I-95 curves to the northeast and passes near urban residential and commercial areas in the Fishtown neighborhood, coming to an interchange that serves Girard Avenue, Lehigh Avenue, and Delaware Avenue. The freeway heads into the Port Richmond neighborhood and runs between development to the northwest and an empty lot along the Delaware River to the southeast, coming to a bridge over Conrail Shared Assets Operations' Richmond Industrial Track. The road continues between residential areas to the northwest and industrial areas to the southeast as it reaches a full interchange at Allegheny Avenue and a northbound entrance from Castor Avenue. I-95 passes under railroad tracks carrying NJ Transit's Atlantic City Line and Conrail Shared Assets Operations' Delair Branch and crosses the Frankford Creek as it comes to an interchange serving the Betsy Ross Bridge, which crosses the Delaware River and becomes the Route 90 freeway in New Jersey, and Aramingo Avenue. From here, the freeway heads into Northeast Philadelphia, coming to an interchange serving Bridge Street and Harbison Avenue. The road curves to the east-northeast and passes near urban residential and industrial development, with Amtrak's Northeast Corridor becoming closely parallel with the road to the northwest. I-95 passes northwest of the Tacony–Palmyra Bridge over the Delaware River in the Tacony neighborhood and comes to an interchange with PA 73 (Cottman Avenue) and Rhawn Street, with PA 73 providing a connection to the Tacony–Palmyra Bridge. Past this interchange, the freeway heads further from the railroad tracks and runs through industrial areas, passing over a Conrail Shared Assets Operations railroad spur at Bleigh Avenue and crossing over the Pennypack Trail and the Pennypack Creek within Pennypack Park. The road runs closely parallel to Amtrak's Northeast Corridor again as it runs near more commercial development. I-95 comes to a bridge over the Amtrak line and reaches an interchange with Academy Road and Linden Avenue. After this interchange, the freeway narrows to six lanes and runs between residential areas to the northwest and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor to the southeast.
Upon crossing the Poquessing Creek, I-95 enters Bensalem Township in Bucks County and continues northeast parallel to the Amtrak line past suburban residential areas and some commercial developemt in the community of Andalusia. The freeway comes to a trumpet interchange with the eastern terminus of PA 63, which heads northwest on the Woodhaven Road freeway and provides access to the Philadelphia Mills shopping mall. Past this interchange, I-95 passes northwest of a park and ride at the Cornwells Heights station on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and SEPTA's Trenton Line, with a southbound exit and northbound entrance serving the station. The road continues alongside the railroad tracks through developed suburban areas in the community of Cornwells Heights. I-95 reaches a diamond interchange with the eastern terminus of PA 132 at Street Road before the Amtrak line splits to the east and the highway comes to a bridge over US 13. The freeway passes near wooded residential neighborhoods before it reaches a bridge over the Neshaminy Creek, at which point it heads into Bristol Township.
Upon crossing into Bristol Township, I-95 comes to an interchange with a short freeway stub connecting to PA 413 north of the borough of Bristol. From here, the freeway curves north and passes near industrial parks. I-95 reaches a partial interchange with the terminus of I-295 and the eastern terminus of I-276, the latter of which follows the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where I-95 travels on flyover ramps to connect to the eastbound turnpike. At this interchange, there is a northbound exit and southbound entrance with I-295 and a southbound exit and northbound entrance with I-276. Following this interchange, I-95 passes over PA 413 and heads east along the four-lane Pennsylvania Turnpike, running through wooded areas with nearby development. Farther east, the road crosses Mill Creek and reaches an interchange serving US 13. Past this interchange, I-95 passes over an East Penn Railroad line and comes to the southbound all-electronic Delaware River Bridge toll gantry, where tolls can be paid with E-ZPass or toll-by-plate at highway speeds. From here, I-95 heads onto the Delaware River–Turnpike Toll Bridge, a through arch bridge, passing over US 13, the Delaware Canal, and Amtrak's Northeast Corridor before crossing over the Delaware River. At this point, the Pennsylvania Turnpike ends and I-95 continues north into New Jersey as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension of the New Jersey Turnpike, which connects to the mainline of the New Jersey Turnpike.
Plans for a limited-access highway along the Delaware River originated in 1932, as part of a proposed cars-only parkway system for the Philadelphia area similar to the contemporary system being built in New York City. However, planning for the proposed parkway system stalled and the plan was eventually abandoned. In 1937, plans for the highway were revived as the "Delaware Skyway", a planned elevated highway along the waterfront similar in design to the West Side Highway in New York, though these plans were also scrapped due to concerns that the supports would hinder access to port operations on the waterfront.
In 1945, the city approved the current routing as the Delaware Expressway, envisioned to link all the industrial areas along the river with the Industrial Highway and the Trenton–Morrisville Toll Bridge to New Jersey. The planned highway was incorporated into the Pennsylvania Turnpike system, and was planned to be built as a toll road. However, with the advent of the Interstate Highway System in 1956, the project was turned over to the Pennsylvania Department of Highways and incorporated into Interstate 95. Construction on the road commenced in 1959.
Original plans called for the expressway to follow the US 13 corridor to the Trenton-Morrisville Toll Bridge, where I-95 would continue north along today's Trenton Freeway (US 1). However, due to limited capacity of the highway through Trenton, planners instead opted to build a new alignment bypassing Trenton to the west (today I-295), incorporating the existing Scudder Falls Bridge.
Controversy erupted in the early 1960s over the planned eight-lane elevated segment of the highway along the Center City waterfront; residents of the upscale Society Hill neighborhood objected to the highway on the grounds that it would cut off the neighborhood from the river. State highway officials reached a compromise by opting for an alternative depressed design with an overhead concrete deck connecting Center City to a planned redeveloped waterfront today known as Penn's Landing. By 1979, the entire length of the expressway was open to traffic with the exception of a 4-mile (6.4 km) segment near Philadelphia International Airport.
Completion of the final section of the highway faced considerable difficulty, as the road was to be built on a layer of clay separating the city's water supply from the output of its sewage treatment plant. Matters were complicated by a two-year suspension of federal highway funding while the state failed to implement a federally mandated emissions testing program. This final segment was opened to traffic in 1985, marking the completion of the 35-year project.
On March 18, 2008, 2 miles (3 km) of I-95 within Philadelphia were forced to be closed when PennDOT discovered large cracks in a support column underneath the highway. In order to prevent possible collapse, I-95 was closed between Exit 23 (Girard Avenue) and Exit 25 (Allegheny Avenue). PennDOT worked quickly to stiffen the support beams to allow the road to be raised off the column, using 16 jacks, early on March 20. PennDOT reopened the road shortly thereafter, and planned to replace the cracked column.
Filling the I-95 gap
Prior to 2018, I-95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-276) crossed with no interchange. The turnpike continued east to the Delaware River Bridge and I-95 continued north to the Scudder Falls Bridge. In order to remedy this and also provide a continuous route for I-95, eliminating the gap in New Jersey, a high-speed interchange between the two roads was built. I-95 was rerouted onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike into New Jersey toward the New Jersey Turnpike, cutting the I-276 designation back to the interchange, and the I-295 designation was extended into Pennsylvania along the former I-95 alignment around Trenton to end at the interchange.
Groundbreaking for the interchange took place on July 30, 2013, with Governor Tom Corbett in attendance. Construction of the first stage of the interchange, consisting only of the two high-speed flyovers carrying I-95, began in late 2014. In preparation for completion of this stage, I-95 was truncated to the Taylorsville Road interchange in March 2018 and then truncated to the site of the interchange construction in July of the same year. On September 22, 2018, the flyovers opened. Signs were updated during a brief early-morning closure of the turnpike, marking the truncation of I-276 and Pennsylvania Turnpike signage to the new interchange, and the extension of I-95 eastward into New Jersey, forming a continuous posted route between Miami and the Canadian border.
Control cities along I-95 were updated as well in early 2018 in preparation for the opening of the main flyovers. From as far south as I-676 in Center City, the previous northbound control city of Trenton was replaced with New York. This continues eastward as I-95's northbound control city into New Jersey. Trenton remains the control city of eastbound I-295 (former northbound I-95) until US 1, after which it becomes Princeton.
The remaining six interchange movements have yet to begin construction due to funding constraints. Construction is projected to start in 2020.
PennDOT is currently in the process of completely reconstructing I-95 between I-676 and Cottman Avenue (PA 73). This section, built in the 1960s, was nominally eight lanes, but narrowed to six lanes at most interchanges. PennDOT has split the project into five individual projects or sections, starting at the interchange at Cottman Avenue and ending at the Girard Avenue interchange.
Cottman-Princeton interchange to Levick Street
Phase One, with construction costing $34 million and lasting from April 2009 to September 2012, involved construction of a new southbound on-ramp from State Road at Longshore Avenue, as well as a northbound on-ramp from Milnor Street to an existing northbound on-ramp from Princeton Avenue. Cottman Avenue and State Road were widened, and Princeton Avenue was converted from a one-way eastbound street to a two-way street.
Phase Two, with construction costing $212.3 million and lasting from November 2012 to 2017, involved reconstruction of seven bridges between Bleigh Avenue and Levick Street along I-95. New retaining walls next to I-95 and a new water main and sewer culvert along Wissinoming Street were built.
Phase Three will begin in 2021 and end around 2023 and will include the construction of a new ramp from Cottman Avenue onto I-95 southbound, an associated retaining wall, and the relocation of Wissinoming Street between Princeton Avenue and Wellington Street. The cost is unknown.
Levick Street to Bridge Street interchange
This project, split into four phases, involves reconstructing I-95 and its bridges to provide four lanes each way from the Levick Street overpass to the Bridge Street interchange, along with the extension of Delaware Avenue from Buckius Street to Tacony Street.
Bridge Street interchange to Betsy Ross Bridge interchange
This project, split into six phases, will include widening and reconstructing I-95 and its bridges from Wheatsheaf Lane through the Betsy Ross Bridge interchange to Margaret Street. The first phase was completed in late 2017, with construction starting in March 2015, at a cost of $160.3 million; it included widening ramps and constructing new ramps involving I-95, Aramingo Avenue, and the Betsy Ross Bridge. The second phase started at January 2017 and is expected to be completed in 2020 at a cost of $81 million; this involved building new ramps from Aramingo Avenue to I-95 and opening the ramps from Aramingo Avenue to and from the Betsy Ross Bridge.
Ann Street to Frankford Creek
This project, split into four phases, includes reconstructing I-95 from the Betsy Ross Bridge to the Allegheny Avenue ramps and improving the interchange at Allegheny/Castor Avenue. Already, Richmond Street was widened and had new curbs, sidewalks and traffic signals installed and trees planted, which, along with other improvements, costed $32.1 million.
Girard Avenue interchange to Allegheny/Castor interchange
This project, including seven phases, includes reconstructing I-95 between the Girard Avenue interchange through the Allegheny Avenue interchange to the I-676 interchange at Race Street. I-95 between Palmer Street and Frankford Avenue has already been rebuilt and improved upon, and an I-95 viaduct between Palmer Street and Ann Street has been rebuilt.
In addition to reconfiguring the interchanges, the road will be widened, resulting in I-95 being at least eight lanes wide between I-676 and Academy Road. The entire project's tentative completion date is around 2026.
Relocation in Philadelphia
Some have proposed removing the freeway, thereby allowing Philadelphians better access to the Delaware River. On December 31, 2015, outgoing Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced that a $10 million study funded by state and federal money would consider placing I-95 in a tunnel in the area around Penn's Landing.
A four-acre (1.6 ha) "overcap park", scheduled to begin construction in 2021, will cover approximately 1⁄10 mile (0.16 km) of the highway. The park is expected to have spray pools, a skating rink, and a cafe. The park is to slope down to the riverfront, expanding the Penn’s Landing promenade and connecting it to Old City.
- The Roads of Metro Philadelphia: Delaware Expressway (I-95)
- Pennsylvania Highways: Interstate 95
- I-95 at AARoads.com
- Pennsylvania Roads - I-95