This 2005 photo shows the southbound Doylestown Bypass (PA 611) approaching the half-completed cloverleaf interchange with US 202 in Doylestown. A proposed extension of the US 202 Expressway southwest of the Doylestown Bypass would complete the interchange. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)
PROVIDING RELIEF THROUGH DOYLESTOWN: Beginning in the late 1950's, the Philadelphia Urban Traffic and Transportation Board, a predecessor agency to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), proposed a "611 Relief Route" expressway to replace the existing US 611 through Montgomery, Bucks, and Northampton counties.
Continuing through the 1960's, the DVRPC and other highway planners maintained plans for the highway, which went officially as the "Cross County Expressway." It was to extend south to Northeast Philadelphia via an extended Woodhaven Road (PA 63), and north to the existing southern terminus of the PA 33 Expressway (at I-78 and US 22) near Easton. Although the designation of US 611 was changed to PA 611 in 1972, it is not known if the expressway was to have had the new designation.
The Doylestown Bypass was the only portion of the ambitious "Cross County Expressway" proposal to be built. Begun in 1974, construction of the 3.7-mile-long, four-lane bypass was completed two years later.
According to the DVRPC, the Doylestown Bypass carries approximately 30,000 vehicles per day (AADT).
UPGRADES TO THE BYPASS: In 2002, PennDOT completed a two-year project to rehabilitate the Doylestown Bypass. The $6.2 million project included shoulder reconstruction, concrete rehabilitation on travel lanes and ramps, guiderail upgrades, and drainage improvements. Repairs also were made on bridges over Turk Road, Cooks Run, Saw Mill Road, and Business Route 611.
In 2003, PennDOT finished construction of a $1.2 million to provide a northbound exit ramp and southbound entrance ramp at Broad Street, converting what had been a "partial-diamond" interchange into a "full-diamond" interchange. That year also saw a retrofit of the State Street overpass to accommodate a shared-use bicycle and pedestrian path. PennDOT added a structure mounted concrete barrier to the existing shoulder of the bridge.
Further south, the incomplete "cloverleaf" interchange with the short section of US 202 Expressway south of downtown Doylestown may see construction in the near future. In February 2005, PennDOT presented a $161 million, two-lane ("super 2") parkway alternative for the section of US 202 west of PA 611 (Section 700). The proposed US 202 Parkway replaces a $383 million "full-build" four-lane freeway alternative planned for the US 202 right-of-way. Completion of the extended parkway would complete the movements at the half-completed cloverleaf, which was built upon completion of PA 611 and US 202 during the 1970's.
This 2004 photo shows the northbound Doylestown Bypass (PA 611) approaching the exit for State Street in Doylestown. For about three-quarters of a mile, this section of PA 611 is signed dually with US 202. (Photo by Alex Nitzman, northeastroads.com.)
THE "611 RELIEF ROUTE": During the 1950's and 1960's, state highway officials mulled the following plans for a new north-south expressway to bypass the existing Route 611:
In the initial stage of extension, Woodhaven Road (PA 63), which was completed to its current terminus in Northeast Philadelphia in 1966, was to continue north and west from Lower Moreland Township. It was to meet the Pennsylvania Turnpike-Delaware River Extension (I-276) near Southampton Township, Bucks County. The 4.8-mile-long, $68 million extension was scheduled for completion by 1975.
North of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the route was to become the Cross County Expressway, and continue to the southern terminus of the present-day Doylestown Bypass (PA 611). From the northern end of the Doylestown Bypass, the proposed expressway was to continue north through Bucks and Northampton counties to the existing southern terminus of the PA 33 Expressway (at I-78 and US 22) near Easton. This part of the extension, for which no cost estimate was given, was to be completed by 1985.
One post on buildthebypass.com, a former web site advocating construction of the US 202 Expressway extension southwest of Doylestown, gave the following description of the proposed PA 611 Expressway north of Doylestown:
The present bypass is to continue past its upper end near Danboro; continuing north its to run parallel to the present 611 past Plumsteadville and Ottsville, have an interchange with 563 near Palisades High School and Lake Nockamixon, continue due north running parallel and just east of 412 past Springtown and Hellertown where it will connect with and become a part of the present Route 33 at its interchange with I-78.
Although it is not known if the expressway was to carry either the PA 33, PA 63, or PA 611 designation, at least one 1957 report from The Philadelphia Inquirer referred to the proposal as the "611 Relief Route."
SOURCES: "Loop Highways To Cut Tie-Ups Urged for Area" by James P. McFadden, The Philadelphia Inquirer (12/22/1957); 1985 Regional Transportation Plan, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (1969); "Bike and Hike Path Nears Completion," The Doylestown Patriot (10/24/2003); Borough of Doylestown; Citizens for the Route 202 Bypass Committee; Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Jeff Kitsko; Alex Nitzman; Len Pundt.
PA 611 shield by Ralph Herman. Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.