THE CROSSTOWN BECOMES AN INTERSTATE: Support for the Crosstown Expressway solidified among planning and transportation officials with the 1956 Federal Highway Aid Act, which give birth to the Interstate highway system. With the promise of 90-10 Federal-state financing, the Crosstown Expressway - and other expressways in Philadelphia - moved one step closer to reality.
By 1957, the Pennsylvania Department of Highways and the Federal Bureau of Public Roads (BPR) approved the route as part of the Interstate highway system. The Crosstown Expressway, and its extension, the Cobbs Creek Expressway, was among the 1,500 miles of new urban routes added that year to the original Interstate highway system. In 1959, the Crosstown-Cobbs Creek route received a single designation: I-695.
DECIDING UPON A ROUTE: Soon after this approval, engineering consultants Wilbur Smith and Associates prepared a route planning report for the Pennsylvania Department of Highways and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. The following routes were considered:
Double-decked, elevated highway along the Washington Avenue corridor
Depressed highway along the Lombard Street-South Street corridor
Depressed highway along the South Street-Bainbridge Street corridor