A THIRD EAST-WEST ROUTE THROUGH PHILADELPHIA: In the mid-1960's, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission proposed an east-west expressway along Girard Avenue from the Delaware Expressway (I-95) west to the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76). The 2.8-mile-long, $60 million Girard Avenue Expressway was to borrow the cut-and-cover design used for the construction of the Delaware Expressway (I-95) and the Vine Street Expressway (I-676 and US 30), and planned for the unbuilt Crosstown Expressway (I-695). It was also planned as part of an urban renewal effort for lower North Philadelphia.

The Girard Avenue Expressway, which did not have a known route designation, was to begin at the Delaware Expressway, near the current EXIT 23 (Girard Avenue). At North 6th Street, there was to have been a junction with the proposed southern extension of the Fort Washington (North Penn) Expressway (PA 309), which has to terminate at the Girard interchange. Continuing west past North Broad Street (PA 611), Girard College and Fairmount Park, the expressway was to cross the Schuylkill River over the newly expanded Girard Avenue Bridge before intersecting the Schuylkill Expressway at the current EXIT 342 (Girard Avenue). West of the Schuylkill Expressway, the route was to continue as the Main Line Expressway (US 30) to the city line.

The Girard Avenue Expressway, which was originally scheduled for completion by 1975, faced the same controversy that another route, the Crosstown Expressway, faced along the southern edge of Center City. Like the Crosstown route to the south (which would have caused massive disruption along South Street), the Girard Avenue Expressway would have required the relocation of thousands of residents. Opponents also cited that the need for the expressway had never been adequately demonstrated. Emboldened by their victories over the Crosstown Expressway, housing and community activists joined the fight against the Girard Avenue Expressway.

On July 1, 1977, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) halted all funding on proposed highway projects, effectively killing hopes for constructing new expressways in Philadelphia. Subsequently, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission dropped the Girard Avenue Expressway from its future capital program.

SOURCES: "Philadelphia's Comprehensive Plan for Expressways," Philadelphia City Planning Commission (1966); 1985 Regional Transportation Plan, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (1969); Capital Program: City of Philadelphia, Philadelphia City Planning Commission (1978); "Schuylkill Carries the Load of Many Roads Left Unbuilt" by Paul Nussbaum, The Philadelphia Inquirer (8/19/1984); Philadelphia Historical Commission; Len Pundt.

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