Departmental Papers (ESE)


For fifty years Pennsylvanians have been discussing the idea of constructing a new north-south highway in the central part of Delaware County, the suburban county immediately west of the City of Philadelphia. Such a highway originally was conceived as a parkway. The notion never got very far until the mid-1950's. When the federal Interstate Highway System was conceived, a facility in central Delaware County was proposed to connect the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-276) in Plymouth Meeting, Montgomery County, with the Delaware Expressway (I-95) in Ridley Township, Delaware County. This facility was designated I-476. As conceived, it would constitute the western part of a planned circumferential freeway network around Philadelphia. I-476 is commonly known as "the Blue Route" and also as the "Mid County Expressway."

As an interstate highway project, 90% of the cost of I-476 would be covered by federal interstate highway funds allocated to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The remaining 10% of the project's cost would be paid for by PennDOT (either construction bonds or revenues from the State Motor Fund).

Construction of the Blue Route commenced in 1967 but all con­struction on the main stretch of the road--the 16.9 mile section be­ tween I-95 and the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76)--was halted in 1973. Construction of this portion cannot resume until the project undergoes an environmental impact assessment under the provisions of federal law. The project also must undergo a so-called 4(f) assessment analyzing the facility's impact on parkland and historical resources. The requirements of these federal statutes are summarized in an appen­dix to this report.

Because of the uncertainty surrounding completion of the Blue Route, and because the project has aroused considerable controversy in Delaware County, U.S. Representative Robert W. Edgar in March 1977 organized a "Transportation Advisory Committee" to un­dertake a comprehensive analysis of the project. [...] This report is submitted to the Congressman as the Committee's recommendation.

Document Type

Technical Report

Date of this Version




Date Posted: 16 May 2017