Pennsylvania Roads - PA 378

PA 378

PA 378 was I-378, hence the number, until PennDOT figured out that US 22 would never make it as an Interstate (and New Jersey wasn't too keen on upgrading its section to a freeway). For a little while, I-378 was dangling well north of the new I-78 routing, before it was downgraded in 1971 and extended along the southern part of PA 191 to PA 309. Thanks to Scott Colbert, who gave me a pretty good signage run in both directions for this page before I was able to get my own.

Beyond the end of the old I-378, which is where the median vanishes into double yellow lines; PA 191 would have been going straight once upon a time (hence the shield).

PA 378 SB over the Lehigh (Coal and Navigation) Canal and the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Each of those gets a truss on the 1924 Hill to Hill Bridge, but the Lehigh River doesn't.

Bridge views from the north shore of the river, Lehigh St. EB and WB.

Just sit at the corner of Lehigh St. and Main St. and take in the view of concrete arches all around. Sad thing is, there were even more once upon a time. The non-arched area at the left of the 3rd photo is actually a stub for a former ramp that led down to the very corner I'm standing at. When I-378 was constructed to tie into the north side of the bridge, the old four-way intersection at the top had to be cut back, so the sharp-angled connector to Lehigh and Main was removed, the bridge mainline to Main St. was converted into a NB offramp, and the spur to 2nd Ave. was converted into a SB onramp. At the same time as all this work was going on, all of the old buildings in the northwest quadrant of this intersection were taken down, Leibert St. was pulled out of the area and Spring St. was extended into it, leaving Highland Field and some delicious views for those into infrastructure like you and me.

Driving west on Lehigh St. under the structure and then looking back east.

Had enough? Didn't think so. Let's head north on Conestoga St. and then under the old four-way bridge intersection on Spring St., west past West St. (last photo) paralleling the old 2nd Ave. ramp, which was closed in the 1970s a few years after PA 378 opened. There might have been a safety issue with a freeway onramp having no merge space and limited sight distance to the north.

Since then, the ramp is just a local parking area with old lanterns. It should have been torn down, but I guess in the 1960s when I-378 was being built was the last time PennDOH thought about removals, and this ramp wasn't ready yet.

Southward views toward the Hill to Hill Bridge from its former feeder.

Looking east toward the Main St. ramp, then a look back west toward 2nd Ave. You can see how the sidewalk used to head around a street corner onto the bridge, but the street was filled in to make more sidewalk. Imagine being at a four-way intersection right here, with no traffic to the left but a ramp bearing right back off the structure.

Back to the signs, here are NB assemblies on the Bethlehem side of the bridge, where the old Interstate began, then looking down the wide Main St. ramp. Notice by looking closely that the "Main St." and the arrows were lower on the signs. There were once PA 191 shields above the text on these signs; Main St. was part of the dance over to Linden St., which now becomes 191 upon reaching US 22. The ramp itself used to be the bridge mainline before I-378 was built, so it was a two-way connector to Main St. when the latter was actually a main street.

A look at what somehow passed for an Interstate, with a very narrow grass median, almost no left shoulders, and no guiderail. This is reminiscent of the Arroyo Seco Parkway, California's first freeway. The first photo looks north from the Hill to Hill Bridge.

Broad St. WB at 3rd Ave. in Bethlehem, then north on 3rd Ave. at Exit 3. It's difficult to reverse a route shield, but looking at the attendant street sign, I guess none of the inspectors were paying attention after the product was installed.

I mean, I thought it was difficult when Anthony Simon first gave me the 3rd Ave. photo, but when I went back for my own version, I found more on New St. SB at Union Blvd. and Spring St. WB at 2nd Ave., so it's contagious.

NB toward Exit 2, the only numbered exit on the NB side (though the equivalent of Exit 1 appears after merging with a US 22 EB C-D road). The PA 378 freeway is numbered from its onetime parent, but I don't know if mileposts still run north-south or if they were reversed with the redesignation and southward extension. In fact, I didn't see any mileposts there at all. Question: Why is Eighth Ave. NORTH Exit 2E?

Speaking of Eighth Avenue North, these are on it.

And these are SB.

A SB run of all three numbered exits. Yes, exits increase away from the parent, meaning they counterintuitively progress southward. In PA, I-180 increases to the west, anti-MUTCD as well (though it was once north-south so it didn't seem so out-of-place then).

NB, the end of PA 378. I don't know why the EAST BGS's are darker than the WESTs, but it appears to be more than just lighting.

Onto US 22
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