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Collection on construction of I-476


Held at: Delaware County Historical Society [Contact Us]408 Avenue of the States, Chester, Pennsylvania, 19013

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Delaware County Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

With increased car traffic after World War II, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission envisioned a "Chester Extension" of the Pennsylvania Turnpike that would connect to the Philadelphia International Airport through Delaware County while bypassing Philadelphia. When the Federal Highway Act was signed into law in 1956, planning of the "Mid-County Expressway," which would become I-476, began in earnest. The Pennsylvania Department of Highways mapped three potential routes, nicknamed "Red (Yellow)," "Green," and "Blue" routes. The Blue Route, parallel to PA-320 along the Darby Creek and Crum Creek valleys, was favored because it provided the most traffic relief and least community disruption.

The Blue Route was first scheduled for a 1964 completion date and $40 million budget, but progress would be stalled by more than two decades of public hearings. After protests from communities threatened by the Blue Route's proposed path, a re-design process began and the budget was adjusted upward to $78 million. Two sections of I-476 were completed by 1974, but they remained unopened.

In the early 1970s, regulations came into force that required the I-476 project to be reassessed with new environmental impact studies, causing more delays. The first section of the Blue Route was opened in 1979, but the U.S. District Court halted construction of I-476 based on complaints from the Delaware County communities of Marple, Radnor, Ashwood Manor, and Swarthmore, along with the Citizens County of Delaware County. Plans were again revised, and construction resumed in 1985 with a Federal judge's approval, contingent upon extensive environmental safeguards. It was not until 1992 that the highway was finally completed, at a total cost of about $600 million.


Anderson, Steve. "Mid-County Expressway ("Blue Route") Historic Overview." Accessed July 1, 2013.

Most of the materials in this collection seem to have been collected or created by the Citizen's Council of Delaware County or by the Radnor-Marple Blue Route Committee; the Regional Transportation Alliance and the Radnor, Ithan and St. David's Civic Association are also represented. The collection includes materials relating to I-476 opposition, in the form of original and copy correspondence, newspaper clippings, notes, rough meeting minutes, drafts, printed materials such as environmental impact reports, and materials relating to court hearings. There are also two photographs from the grand opening of the Blue Route and a piece of the "ribbon" cut to open it.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Delaware County Historical Society directly for more information.

Delaware County Historical Society
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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