I-99/US 220 Construction: Bellefonte Bypass/PA 26 Interchange

March 24, 2002 Photos by Timothy Reichard

PA 26 once followed Jacksonville Road and Howard Street from I-80 to Bellefonte and then followed current PA 150 southwestward to the current PA 26 and PA 150 intersection at the Nittany Mall north of State College. In the 1970s, a two-lane (Super-2) expressway was built from the Jacksonville Road interchange of I-80 southward to meet PA 64 north of Pleasant Gap. This expressway is the Bellefonte Bypass, onto which PA 26 was rerouted. PA 150 was then signed south of Bellefonte on what used to be PA 26, and PA 64 was truncated to the end of the Bellefonte Bypass, having previously followed current PA 26 south to the current PA 26 and PA 150 intersection.

In the mid-1990s, all but the southernmost mile of the two-lane Bellefonte Bypass was built out to four lanes in anticipation of the new US 220 expressway from Bedford to I-80; later, this route would be planned to received the I-99 designation, too. By 1997, the Bellefonte Bypass was an interstate-standard four-lane freeway except for its connections with I-80 and PA 64. The I-80 interchange will be rebuilt as a high-speed freeway-to-freeway interchange later this decade. The PA 64 end of the Bellefonte Bypass may or may not be extended to US 322 in Potters Mills, awaiting results of the South Central Centre County Transportation Study (which was deferred to an unknown later date in 2004). Midway between I-80 and PA 64 is the completed PA 550 interchange. The under-construction I-99/US 220 expressway already connects at a fourth (high-speed) interchange on the Bellefonte Bypass one mile north of PA 64 and a half mile north of the Harrison Road interchange. The Bellefonte Bypass has been open for 25 years, but I-99/US 220 has not yet opened.


(Click image to enlarge)

The best way to see the full interchange from the south is from the Harrison Road overpass. The elevated ramp takes PA 26 northbound traffic onto I-99/US 220 southbound.


Between the Harrison Road and PA 26 interchanges, two big green signs tell traffic how to navigate PA 26. PA 26 northbound merges with I-99/US 220 for a same-way triplex to I-80. Space has been left on the near big green sign for an I-99 shield, which will not appear until I-99 is completed bewteen State College and Bald Eagle. The distant big green sign indicates that traffic wanting to head southbound on PA 26 must exit.

Taking the PA 26 southbound exit leads one to the end of the Bellefonte Bypass, where PA 64 meets PA 26.


Heading north at the south end of the Bellefonte Bypass, one enters the Super-2 section on this "onramp." The PA 26 shield under NORTH has fallen from the sign assembly. The US 220 shield under TO is flipped around because US 220 has not been rerouted. An I-99 shield will eventually go on the right side of the sign assembly.


The ramp continues to merge onto the stub end of the Super-2.


Continuing ahead, big green signs ahve been posted for the interchange. On the I-80 big green sign, a US 220 shield has been placed in the lower right corner but is hidden by a green convering. The lower left corner will display an I-99 shield when I-99 is officially designated. This portion of the Bellefonte Bypass is PA 26, but is signed as SR 8021 (a ramp designation) by little white signs.


The big green signs on the overhead gantry show the split onto I-99/US 220/PA 26 northbound or to I-99/US 220 southbound to State College. To the left of the barrier is the start of the ramp to I-99/US 220 southbound.


Further ahead on PA 26, the lane ascends and descends before reaching the mainline expressway, which curves to the right.


The onramp to I-99/US 220 is very long and signed with normal (non-ramp) speed limit signs. Follow this lane to the right part of the picture, and one can see the barrier placed diagonally across the northbound expressway lanes, guiding PA 26 traffic onto the expressway.


From the PA 26 northbound onramp, this ramp to I-99/US 220 southbound can be seen crossing a several-span bridge over the mainline. This photo shows where the two lanes split, mainline northbound to the right and mainline southbound forward curving to the left.


Here is a close shot of the elevated onramp.


Here is another view of the onramp to southbound I-99/US 220. As in the previous photo, the mainline expressway can be seen curving under the bridge. The minivan is following PA 26 southbound after splitting from the interstate.


Following the PA 26 northbound lane further, the two ramps shown in the previous photo can be seen each on its own bridge. The ramp from right to left is PA 26 southbound, while the ramp in the distance connects PA 26 northbound to I-99/US 220 southbound. This latter ramp can be easily seen in the first photo.


Here is the shot of one elevated ramp descending under the other. This view is along PA 26 southbound, having left the interstate but not yet reconnected with the Super-2.


Here is another photo of the elevated onramp to southbound I-99/US 220.


Jumping to the north and heading southbound, Exit 81 is signed here. The barrier prevents traffic from not exiting.


At Exit 81, all traffic exits the interstate and approaches the offramp, which is itself PA 26 southbound.


While exiting, a US 220 reassurance shield can be seen standing along the mainline.


Here is a closeup of the US 220 shield.


Like the PA 26 northbound onramp, the PA 26 southbound offramp has normal (non-ramp) speed limit signs.


Here is the bridge that takes the PA 26 southbound onramp over the mainline and then under the other elevated ramp.


From the north, here is the view of the elevated PA 26 southbound offramp.


Here is the other end of that bridge. PA 26 southbound continues to the left to dive under the other elevated overpass, rejoin the Super-2, and then meet PA 64.





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