AN ATTEMPT TO REVITALIZE WEST PHILADELPHIA: Beginning in 1947, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission proposed a north-south expressway along the western edge of the city. Early proposals for the West Philadelphia Expressway showed an extension of the Cobbs Creek Expressway north along Cobbs Creek to the proposed Main Line Expressway (US 30) in Upper Darby, where the route was to terminate.

From the 1960's through the mid-1970's, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission proposed a north-south expressway along 52nd Street from the Schuylkill Expressway south to the proposed Cobbs Creek Expressway (I-695). The West Philadelphia Expressway, which probably would have carried the US 1 designation (since it was to be the southern continuation of the Roosevelt Expressway), was part of the proposed "five mile loop" comprised of a network of freeways five miles from Philadelphia City Hall.

The West Philadelphia Expressway was also part of a West Philadelphia improvement proposal developed jointly by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to the expressway at 52nd Street, the joint plan called for arterials at 30th Street, 38th Street and 48th Street, and for the closing of "non-vital" streets in overbuilt residential areas to allow for "greenways."

Beginning at the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76) at the current EXIT 340B (US 1 / Roosevelt Expressway), the West Philadelphia Expressway was to cut through the northern edge of Fairmount Park, and continue south along the western edge of the park. Through West Philadelphia, the expressway was to continue south along 52nd Street. After interchanges at the proposed Main Line Expressway (US 30) and Market Street, the West Philadelphia Expressway was to terminate at the proposed Cobbs Creek Expressway, in the vicinity of Baltimore Avenue (US 13). (For a short distance on the Cobbs Creek Expressway, US 1 may have been dually signed with I-695 before the split at the Lansdowne Expressway, where US 1 was to continue into Delaware County.)

The 4.8-mile-long, $68 million West Philadelphia Expressway was originally slated for completion by 1975, but faced the same controversies - rising construction costs and growing political opposition - as other area road projects. On July 1, 1977, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) halted funding for proposed highway projects, effectively killing many unbuilt expressways in the Philadelphia area. Subsequently, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission removed the West Philadelphia Expressway from its future capital program.

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); "Campus Planning and Development at the University of Pennsylvania" by Duane A. Schrempp, University of Pennsylvania (1994); Len Pundt.

  • US 1 shield by Ralph Herman.
  • Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.


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