These 2004 photos show the built-but-never-used Schuylkill Parkway, which was to carry the PA 23 designation. The left photo shows the parkway approaching US 202. The right photo shows the unfinished parkway approaching its stub end in a wooded area. (Photos by Corey Dukes, delmarvahighways.com.)
In the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia, there are two separate sections of the PA 23 Expressway that were never constructed. They are as follows:
THE SCHUYLKILL PARKWAY: This section of the PA 23 Expressway, officially called the "Schuylkill Parkway," was to extend 3.6 miles along the west (south) bank of the Schuylkill River from the Pottstown Expressway (US 422) in Valley Forge to US 202 in Bridgeport. First proposed in the 1960's, the Schuylkill Parkway was to alleviate congestion on existing PA 23 (Valley Forge Road), a two-lane road with sharp curves, an at-grade railroad crossing and a narrow bridge.
Beginning at the interchange between the US 422 Expressway and the existing PA 23 (Valley Forge Road) in Valley Forge, just south of the Betzwood Bridge, the Schuylkill Parkway was to have been constructed along the Reading Railroad right-of-way. It was to terminate at the William Dannehower Bridge, which carries US 202 over the Schuylkill River between Bridgeport and Norristown. Additional interchanges may have been constructed at Geerdes Boulevard to serve industrial and commercial development along the western portion of the route, and at Abrams Road to serve residential development along the eastern portion of the route.
In 1972, a one-half mile stretch of highway was constructed in the vicinity of the William Dannehower Bridge (US 202), but was abandoned shortly thereafter when the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) ran out of funds. PennDOT ultimately dropped plans for this section of the PA 23 Expressway in the late 1980's.
Recently, the Upper Merion Transportation Authority initiated preliminary studies for reviving the Schuylkill Parkway proposal. The township allocated $1.2 million for preliminary design, engineering, environmental and historical studies. Moreover, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) is expected to conduct an 18-month-long traffic study along the Schuylkill Parkway (PA 23) corridor. Once state and Federal approval is given, construction would not begin until at least 2007.
THE PHOENIXVILLE SPUR: This section of the PA 23 Expressway, officially called the "Phoenixville Spur," was to extend 4.4 miles west from the Pottstown Expressway (US 422) to the intersection of PA 23 (Ridge Road) and PA 724 (Schuylkill Road) in Phoenixville. It was to provide expressway service to the Chester County town of Phoenixville.
Beginning at the US 422 Expressway between the Egypt Road and PA 29 (Phoenixville-Collegeville Road) exits in Collegeville, the Phoenixville Spur was to cross the Schuylkill River over a new bridge just south of Black Rock Dam. Crossing into Chester County, the expressway was to cross just north of downtown Phoenixville, providing a bypass of the town before terminating at the existing PA 23. Additional interchanges may have been constructed at PA 29 (Phoenixville-Collegeville Road) in Montgomery County, and at PA 113 (Black Rock Road) in Chester County.
Throughout the 1960's and 1970's, PennDOT kept the Phoenixville Spur as an active proposal. In 1969, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) approved the $12 million expressway spur.
Although the spur has not been an active plan since the 1980's, vestiges of the unbuilt route remain at the site of the proposed interchange with US 422 Expressway in Collegeville. At the interchange site, the median between the US 422 carriageways widens to make room for the unbuilt ramps to the Phoenixville Spur.
This 2005 photo shows the eastbound US 422 at the unbuilt interchange with the Phoenixville Spur (PA 23) in Lower Providence Township. Note the wide median and dirt grading. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)
SOURCES: "Planners Table Airpark Plan After Protests," The Philadelphia Inquirer (7/31/1969); 1985 Regional Transportation Plan, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (1969); "1970-1983 Traffic Trends," Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (1983); "Road To Connect Routes 422, 202 Along Schuylkill May Become Reality" by Keith Phucas, The Times-Herald (3/22/2001); Corey Dukes; Rob Hinkle; Jeff Kitsko; Len Pundt.