This 2008 photo shows the limited-access approach from Academy Road east to the Delaware Expressway (I-95). The approach was to have been part of a much longer Ten-Mile-Loop Expressway. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)
THE NORTHERN BYPASS: As early as 1947, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission proposed an expressway along the northern edge of the city of Philadelphia. The northern bypass was to provide connections between the Delaware, Fort Washington (North Penn) and Schuylkill expressways. However, with highway funds scarce in the immediate postwar era, construction priorities were shifted to the Schuylkill and Delaware expressways.
From the 1950's through the mid-1970's, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission proposed a "ten-mile-loop" expressway along the northern edge of the city, ten miles north of Philadelphia City Hall. The 18.2-mile-long, $59 million expressway was to extend from the Delaware Expressway (I-95) in Northeast Philadelphia west to the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) at the "Conshohocken curve." Its route was to be as follows:
Beginning at the Delaware Expressway (I-95) at the current EXIT 32 (Academy Road), the Ten-Mile Loop Expressway was to utilize the Academy Road ramps to Frankford Avenue (US 13), and continue northwest through the Torresdale and Bustleton sections of Northeast Philadelphia before intersecting the proposed Northeast Expressway (US 1) in the vicinity of the triangle formed by Bustleton Avenue (PA 532), Grant Avenue and Welsh Road.
Past the Northeast Expressway, the Ten-Mile Loop Expressway was to curve around the western end of Pennypack Park, pass through Lorimer Park just across the city line in Montgomery County, and continue west through the communities of Rockledge and Jenkintown.
At Wyncote, the Ten-Mile Loop Expressway was to intersect the Fort Washington Expressway (PA 309) at the high-speed interchange between Easton Road and Limekiln Pike (PA 152).
From this point, the Ten-Mile-Loop Expressway was to continue west before curving around the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia (while still remaining in Montgomery County).
The Ten-Mile Loop Expressway was to take a turn to the southwest, crossing Germantown Pike and Ridge Avenue before terminating at the I-76, just east of the current EXIT 332 (PA 23 / Conshohocken State Road) in Conshohocken.
More ambitious plans developed by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) called for an eastern extension of the Ten-Mile-Loop Expressway to Moorestown, New Jersey, via a new highway crossing (Torresdale-Riverside Bridge) over the Delaware River. The expressway, which did not have a known route designation, was to have been completed by 1985.
On July 1, 1977, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) halted all funding of proposed highway projects. Subsequently, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the DVRPC removed the route from their long-range capital plans.
The following vestiges of the Ten-Mile-Loop Expressway remain today:
On the Delaware Expressway (I-95) in Northeast Philadelphia, EXIT 32 (Academy Road), originally intended for the expressway, is a "broad-trumpet," high-speed interchange. The opposing lanes of the exit continue with a median divider for a short length, and then continue straight to its end at Academy Road. PennDOT completed a reconstruction of the interchange in 1999.
On the Fort Washington Expressway (PA 309), the "high-speed" interchange with PA 152 (Limekiln Road) and Easton Road remains in its original configuration. Beginning in the spring of 2002, PennDOT plans to replace the interchange with a conventional full-diamond interchange as part of the Fort Washington Expressway reconstruction project. Completion of the rebuilt interchange is scheduled for late 2008.
SOURCES: "Philadelphia Expressway Program," Philadelphia City Planning Commission (1947); "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); Len Pundt.