Betsy Ross ramps to the Northeast planned

The Betsy Ross Bridge disappearing into heavy fog this morning.
The Betsy Ross Bridge disappearing into heavy fog this morning. (David Swanson / Inquirer staff photographer)
Posted: April 08, 2013

New ramps planned for the Betsy Ross Bridge will give motorists better access to and from Northeast Philadelphia and reduce industrial traffic through local neighborhoods, highway planners said Monday.

Plans for a western connection from the bridge have been on the drawing boards ever since the proposed Pulaski Expressway was killed by community opposition and financial woes in the late 1970s.

Though the new Betsy Ross ramps won't provide the grand connection to Roosevelt Boulevard and Route 309 envisioned 50 years ago, there is an echo of the Pulaski Expressway in the new project. The Betsy Ross ramps will provide direct connections to and from Aramingo Avenue and to a planned extension of Adams Avenue to link I-95 to Torresdale Avenue.

The $160 million ramp project is slated to go to bid in summer 2014, said Charles Davies, assistant district executive/design for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Construction, which is expected to start in early 2015, will take about three years.

The one-third-mile-long extension of Adams Avenue to Torresdale is expected to cost about $19 million and is included in the new transportation budget proposed this year by Gov. Corbett.

The projects "will open up the whole Torresdale Avenue area to better connectivity" with I-95 and the Betsy Ross Bridge, PennDOT project manager Paul Shultes said.

And, he said, the projects will "take industrial traffic out of the residential areas."

The Betsy Ross, which connects New Jersey to Northeast Philadelphia and I-95, is the newest and least used of four Delaware River Port Authority toll bridges. About 40,000 vehicles a day travel the bridge, less than a third of the traffic on the busier Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman Bridges.

When the bridge opened in 1976, exits were in place for the planned Pulaski Expressway but went unused as the expressway was never built. The old ramp stubs will be removed as part of the new construction.

"They're 40 years old, and they don't meet current codes," Shultes said.

The new bridge ramps will provide some of the access that was proposed then, without the widespread destruction of homes and businesses that would have accompanied the expressway.

"The Pulaski Expressway was going to go to U.S. 1," Shultes said. "Adams Avenue will at least get you to Torresdale."

Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or

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