This 2002 photo shows the eastbound New Jersey Turnpike-Pennsylvania Extension at EXIT 6A (US 130) in Florence. On the eastbound lanes, signs point "TO I-95," while on the westbound lanes, signs point "TO I-276." The entire extension is slated to become part of I-95 upon completion of the I-95 / I-276 interchange in Levittown, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)
THE SPUR TO PENNSYLVANIA AND POINTS WEST: In 1954, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority began work on a 5.7-mile-long, six-lane spur that would link the mainline New Jersey Turnpike in Columbus Township, Burlington County with the new Delaware River Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The work was to represent one of the final links in the "eastern turnpike complex," providing a single, controlled-access toll road link between New York City and Chicago.
The $19 million New Jersey Turnpike-Pennsylvania Extension, which included a new interchange with the mainline New Jersey Turnpike, opened to traffic on May 25, 1956. It was part of a four-year, $98 million project to connect the original eastern terminus of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Valley Forge with the mainline New Jersey Turnpike. Included in the massive project was the $14 million Delaware River-Turnpike Toll Bridge, a steel-arch span connecting Florence Township, New Jersey with Levittown, Pennsylvania. To accommodate the expected traffic increases, the mainline New Jersey Turnpike was widened from four to six lanes from EXIT 6 to the northern terminus at EXIT 18.
When the project was completed, motorists were now able to cover the 43 miles in 45 minutes, bypassing the city of Philadelphia. Prior to the completion of the project, motorists between Valley Forge and Burlington County often faced travels of two hours or more.
Originally forecast to carry 20,000 vehicles per day (AADT) in its first year, the turnpike extension now carries approximately 50,000 vehicles each day.
THE NEW EXIT 6A: In October 1997, work began on a $50 million interchange project to give motorists full access from the New Jersey Turnpike-Pennsylvania Extension to US 130 in Florence Township. The new interchange includes ramps off the turnpike extension that are located about 1,800 feet east of the bridge that carries the toll road over US 130. These ramps connect to both the northbound and southbound lanes of US 130 about 800 feet north of the turnpike extension. The new construction, which was completed on December 17, 1999, provides direct access between both directions of the turnpike extension and US 130 for the first time.
Prior to construction, the only EXIT 6A access was for eastbound traffic leaving Pennsylvania. No westbound access was provided. Furthermore, motorists had to drive onto curvy (and often potholed) residential streets to access US 130.
IS IT I-276? OR IS IT I-95? For years, motorists accessing EXIT 6 from the mainline New Jersey Turnpike have been greeted with "TO I-276" signs. According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), the New Jersey Turnpike-Pennsylvania Extension is not designated I-276, but rather part of the unsigned I-95. The westbound I-276 signs are simply used to direct motorists to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. (Heading eastbound, I-95 signs are used to direct motorists to the mainline New Jersey Turnpike.)
Once the direct interchange between I-95 (Delaware Expressway) and I-276 (Pennsylvania Turnpike-Delaware River Extension) is completed in 2009, the I-95 designation will be prominently posted on the New Jersey Turnpike-Pennsylvania Extension as it makes its way into Pennsylvania. (The existing I-95 between Levittown and Trenton will be re-designated I-295.)
More on this matter from the NJDOT as follows:
The secret state route number before its designation as an Interstate by Congress was NJ 700P. This designation was used for electronic record-keeping purposes. The suffix "P" denoted the Pennsylvania Turnpike Extension.
We do not know for certain where I-276 ended in Pennsylvania, but it may have been at a proposed interchange between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-95 near Bristol. When Congress de-designated the uncompleted section of I-95 in New Jersey, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) was directed to designate the Pennsylvania Extension of the New Jersey Turnpike and the New Jersey Turnpike mainline from EXIT 6 north to I-287 as I-95.
When the interchange is completed, the I-95 signs will be erected on the New Jersey Turnpike north of EXIT 6, and the existing I-95 north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, around Trenton, and extending to US 1 in Lawrence Township, New Jersey will need to be renumbered. This, as far as we know, has not been addressed by the USDOT, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) or the NJDOT.
For internal purposes, we maintain records of the section signed as I-95 from the Pennsylvania State Line at the Scudder Falls Bridge to US 1 as "I-295", with mileposts continuing from the Delaware State Line at the Delaware Memorial Bridges to the Pennsylvania State Line. We realize this is all very confusing, but the resolution hinges on the completion of the interchange between I-95 and I-276.
As part of the $625 million project to connect I-95 and I-276 in Pennsylvania, a new span will be constructed parallel to the existing Delaware River-Turnpike Toll Bridge. The New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission are currently selecting between two bridge alternatives.
REMEMBERING PEARL HARBOR: On September 24, 1997, the New Jersey State Legislature officially renamed the turnpike spur the "Pearl Harbor Memorial Turnpike Extension." To commemorate the occasion, members of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association of New Jersey, other World War II veterans, representatives of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and officials from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority dedicated the highway.
This 2002 photo shows the eastern terminus of the Pennsylvania Extension at the New Jersey Turnpike mainline. I-95 officially begins on the turnpike mainline north of this point at EXIT 6. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)
When the new I-95 / I-276 interchange is completed in 2009, the New Jersey Turnpike-Pennsylvania Extension will be prominently signed as I-95. To eliminate confusion among motorists traveling on the East Coast, the following new "local" and "express" designations for I-95 should be assigned as follows:
Beginning in New Castle, Delaware, the "express" I-95 would comprise of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the current I-295 approaches, and the length of the New Jersey Turnpike north to EXIT 6.
A companion route, "local" I-95, would serve Wilmington and Philadelphia along the existing I-95 alignment (Delaware Expressway). It would then cross the Delaware River-Turnpike Toll Bridge (I-276) and rejoin the "express" I-95 at EXIT 6 of the New Jersey Turnpike.
(Thanks to phillyroads.com and misc.transport.road contributor Chris Blaney for the recommendation.)
SOURCES: "High Road from the Hudson to the Delaware" by Paul J. C. Friedlander, The New York Times (11/25/1951); "Built for Safety" by Armand Schwab, Jr., The New York Times (11/25/1951); "From Maine to Chicago Without a Traffic Light," The New York Times (11/25/1951); "Delaware Link" by William Weart, The New York Times (5/25/1956); "Interesting Facts About the New Jersey Turnpike," New Jersey Turnpike Authority (1956); Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike by Angus Kress Gillespie and Michael Aaron Rockland, Rutgers University Press (1989); "Turnpike Interchange Is Planned" by Larry Parker, The Philadelphia Inquirer (5/16/1995); "New Turnpike Interchange Expected To Bring Growth" by E. Janene Nolan, Burlington County Times (11/07/1999); "On Route 130, New Route to Turnpike Is Set To Open" by Juan C. Rodriguez, The Philadelphia Inquirer (12/03/1999); "Welcome to the New Jersey Turnpike," New Jersey Turnpike Authority (1999); "Pennsylvania Turnpike / Interstate 95 Interchange Project: Draft Environmental Impact and Section 4(f) Statement," Federal Highway Administration, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (2001); New Jersey Department of Transportation; Chris Blaney; Phil Case; Frank Curcio; Steve Kimmelman; Jeff Kitsko; Larry Lucchetti; Raymond C. Martin; Christopher G. Mason; Dan Moraseski; Mike Natale; Jeff Taylor; William F. Yurasko.
I-276 and I-95 shields by Ralph Herman. New Jersey Turnpike shield by New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.