This 2001 photo shows the eastbound US 322 approach to the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester. The photo was taken one year before a movable concrete barrier was added. The approach was to have been part of a much larger US 322 Expressway on both sides of the Delaware River. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)

THE CONCHESTER EXPRESSWAY: In 1963, the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) announced plans for two new fixed crossings of the Delaware River. The more southerly of the two crossings, the proposed Chester-Bridgeport (Commodore Barry) Bridge, was to offer better distribution of cross-Delaware traffic and provide better access to southern New Jersey.

On the west side of the Delaware River, the Pennsylvania Department of Highways proposed an 8.5-mile-long expressway along the US 322 (Conchester Road) corridor. Beginning at the Delaware Expressway (I-95) at EXIT 3 in Chester, the proposed "Conchester Expressway" was to extend northwest to the proposed US 1 Expressway in Concordville, Delaware County, about one mile north of the existing US 1 (Baltimore Pike).

Approximately two miles to the west, in the vicinity of Brandywine Battlefield State Park, the proposed US 1 Expressway (which was to carry the US 322 designation) was to connect the proposed US 202 Expressway (and carry the US 322 designation north to West Chester). Working in conjunction with the US 322 Expressway, all three routes were to channel traffic from Delaware and Chester counties to the Commodore Barry Bridge.

By the time the Commodore Barry Bridge opened to traffic in 1974, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) had dropped plans to construct the Conchester Expressway. Today, the only remnant of the proposed expressway is a short controlled-access section just north of the I-95 interchange. This section was not constructed to contemporary standards.

In 1998, PennDOT announced plans for a $22 million reconstruction of the existing US 322 (Conchester Road) from I-95 to US 1. PennDOT plans to widen the existing at-grade facility, install new signals along the route, and make improvements at the I-95 interchange.

AN EXPANDED WEST CHESTER BYPASS: Around the east side of West Chester, Chester County, US 322 multiplexes with the US 202 Expressway. Just northeast of West Chester, US 322 departs to the west as the West Chester Bypass.

Constructed in the late 1960's, the existing West Chester Bypass (US 322) was designed as a depressed, dual-carriageway route. However, the companion two-lane carriageway was never constructed, and to this day, the West Chester Bypass remains a limited-access, "super 2" route. The bypass is only accessible from the US 202 Expressway to and from the south.

The US 322 bypass was intended as the northern segment of a loop around West Chester. The US 202 Expressway forms the eastern and southern segments of the loop. The western segment was never constructed.

SOURCES: "1985 Adopted Freeway Plan," Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (1974); Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; Len Pundt.

  • US 322 shield by Ralph Herman.


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