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Interstate 68

Interstate 68 marker

Interstate 68
Route information
Maintained by WVDOH and MDSHA
Length: 112.9 mi[1][2] (181.7 km)
Existed: 1991 – present
Historic National Road
Mountain Maryland Scenic Byway
Major junctions
West end: Morgantown, WV

US 119 in Morgantown, WV
WV 43 near Morgantown, WV
US 40 / US 219 near Grantsville, MD

US 220 near Cumberland, MD
East end: I-70 / US 40 / US 522 in Hancock, MD
States: West Virginia, Maryland
Counties: WV: Monongalia, Preston
MD: Garrett, Allegany, Washington
Highway system
MD 67 MD MD 68
WV 67 WV WV 68

Interstate 68 (I-68) is a 112.9-mile (181.7 km)

  • Roads to the Future - National Freeway (I-68)

External links

  1. ^ a b Melling, Carol (October 31, 2003). "I-68 Extension Now Eligible for Federal Funding" (Press release).  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Highway Information Services Division (December 31, 2013). Highway Location Reference. Maryland State Highway Administration. Retrieved January 21, 2010. 
    • Garrett County (PDF)
    • Allegany County (PDF)
    • Washington County (PDF)
  3. ^ Staff. "Highway and Traffic Analysis" (PDF). ADHS Economic Evaluation.  
  4. ^ Raitz, Karl; Thomson, George (1996). The National Road. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 131.  
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Building the National Freeway" (PDF). Maryland Roads (Maryland State Highway Administration): 5. August 2, 1991. 
  6. ^ a b "Demolition in Path of Bridge to Begin".  
  7. ^ "Cumberland Thruway Opened to Motorists". Cumberland News. December 5, 1966. 
  8. ^ "Next Phase of Thruway Bids Asked".  
  9. ^ "New Freeway Sections Will Open Today". Cumberland News. October 18, 1969. 
  10. ^ "Transportation Department Head to Check Thruway". Cumberland Evening Times. July 28, 1972. 
  11. ^ Map of Maryland (Map). Maryland State Roads Commission. 1960. Archived from the original on February 5, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  12. ^ Staff (2007). "Highway Program". Appalachian Regional Commission. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f United States nominal Gross Domestic Product per capita figures follow the Measuring Worth series supplied in Williamson, Samuel H. (2015). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved April 15, 2015.  These figures follow the figures as of 2013.
  14. ^ "I-68 Extension Gets Important Federal Endorsement". Steubenville, Ohio:  
  15. ^ "New Section of Freeway Now Open". Cumberland Evening News. October 13, 1973. 
  16. ^ Raitz, Karl; Thompson, George (1996). The National Road. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 331.  
  17. ^ Shaffer, Ron (January 12, 1990). "Tunnel Visions".  
  18. ^ a b Rives, Hal (June 7, 1989). "Report of the Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering to the Executive Committee" (PDF) (Report). Traverse City, MI:  
  19. ^ Bowlin, Paul (November 5, 2002). "Report of the Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering to the Standing Committee on Highways" (PDF) (Report). Anchorage, AK: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. p. 8. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  20. ^ United States System of Highways (PDF) (Map). Cartography by American Association of State Highway Officials.  
  21. ^ "Driver Of Overturned Tanker Warns Residents Before Blasts". Associated Press. June 2, 1991. 
  22. ^  
  23. ^ "Cumberland Fire Damage". Washington Post. June 3, 1991. 
  24. ^ "85-vehicle pileup kills two in western Maryland".  
  25. ^ Wald, Matthew (June 18, 2003). "War on Road Fog Lacks Easy Solution".  
  26. ^ a b "Fog warning system installed on I-68".  
  27. ^ Bezis, Jason; Noyes, Kristin (November 5, 2008). "Economic Development History of I-68 in Maryland".  
  28. ^ Beyers, Dan (September 8, 1992). "Mountain Road of Promise Slow to Lift Fortunes". Washington Post. 
  29. ^ Hughes, Harry Roe (2006). My Unexpected Journey. The History Press. p. 105.  
  30. ^ Steelhammer, Rick (November 28, 2000). "West Virginia Hearings on I-68 Extension Set for Next Week".  
  31. ^ Limann, Art (August 12, 2008). "Authority Won’t Give Up on I-68 to Marshall".  
  32. ^ Fluharty, Nate (September 15, 2014). "Plans Moving Forward for Moundsville-to-Morgantown Highway". Wheeling, WV:  
  33. ^ Thomson, Robert (September 30, 2015). "Maryland Boosting an Interstate Speed Limit". Dr. Gridlock. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 2, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Traffic Control Devices Design Manual" (PDF). Maryland State Highway Administration. 2006. Retrieved February 4, 2009. 
  35. ^ Staff. Alternate route to Ohio and points west sign (Highway sign). Washington County, Maryland: Maryland State Highway Administration. Archived from the original on March 26, 2009. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  36. ^ a b  
  37. ^ a b General Highway Map: Monongalia County (PDF) (Map). Cartography by Program Planning and Administration Division. West Virginia Department of Transportation. 2008. Sheet 2. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 
  38. ^ Staff (2007). Interstate System Average Daily Traffic: I-68 Morgantown to Maryland (PDF) (Report). West Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved April 11, 2009. 
  39. ^ Raitz, Karl; Thompson, George (1996). The National Road. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 73.  
  40. ^ Google (February 15, 2009). "Topographic map of Interstate 68 in western Allegany County" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  41. ^ Cleary, Caitlin (April 16, 2006). "If the flood comes too soon, this ark won't be quite ready".  
  42. ^ Moses, Sarah (December 23, 2008). "Signs alert truck drivers to low overpass in Ridgeley".  
  43. ^ Brezinski, David (1994). "Geology of the Sideling Hill Road Cut". Maryland Geological Society. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  44. ^ General Highway Map: Preston County (PDF) (Map). Cartography by Program Planning and Administration Division. West Virginia Department of Transportation. 2008. Sheet 1. Retrieved September 11, 2009. 


See also

  1. ^ Mileposts and exit numbers reset at the state line.[2][37][44]
State County Location mi[1] km Exit Destinations Notes
West Virginia Monongalia Morgantown 0.0 0.0 I‑79 – Fairmont, Washington western terminus; I-79 exit 148
1.1 1.8 1 Downtown
4.0 6.4 4 WV 7 – Sabraton
6.9 11.1 7 CR 857 to Morgantown Municipal Airport
Cheat Lake 10.0 16.1 10 WV 43 north – Cheat Lake, Uniontown, PA Southern terminus of Mon–Fayette Expressway
Preston Pisgah 14.5 23.3 15 CR 7312 / Coopers Rock Road – Coopers Rock State Forest
Bruceton Mills 22.6 36.4 23 WV 26 – Bruceton Mills
Hazelton 28.5 45.9 29 CR 5 / Hazelton Road
West Virginia–Maryland state line
Maryland Garrett Friendsville 3.83 6.16 4 MD 42 – Friendsville
Keysers Ridge 13.82 22.24 14A US 219 south – Oakland West end of US 219 overlap
13.82 22.24 14B US 40 west – Uniontown West end of US 40 overlap
Grantsville 19.20 30.90 19 MD 495 – Grantsville, Swanton
22.26 35.82 22 US 219 north – Meyersdale East end of US 219 overlap
  23.98 38.59 24 Lower New Germany Road
Finzel 29.78 47.93 29 MD 546 – Finzel
Allegany Frostburg 33.32 53.62 33 Midlothian Road (MD 736) – Frostburg
35.01 56.34 34 MD 36 – Westernport, Frostburg
LaVale 39.20 63.09 39
US 40 Alt. – La Vale
No eastbound exit
39.93 64.26 40 To US 220 south (truck route) / Vocke Road (MD 658, Campground Road) No westbound entrance
41.54 66.85 41 MD 49 / Seton Drive Westbound exit only
Cumberland 42.32 68.11 42 US 220 south / Greene Street – McCoole, Keyser West end of US 220 overlap; includes unsigned westbound exit and eastbound entrance to Fletcher Drive
43.59 70.15 43A Beall Street – Ridgeley No eastbound exit; westbound exit and entrance via right-in/right-out
Johnson Street – Ridgeley Eastbound exit and entrance; right-in/right-out
43.88 70.62 43B MD 51 (Industrial Boulevard) – Cumberland Regional Airport
43.90 70.65 43C Downtown Cumberland Eastbound entrance via exit 43B
44.22 71.17 43D Maryland Avenue Right-in/right-out; no hazardous materials on westbound exit
44.85 72.18 44
US 40 Alt. west (Baltimore Avenue) / Willow Brook Road (MD 639)
45.77 73.66 45 Hillcrest Drive (MD 952) Right-in/right-out
46.47 74.79 46 Naves Cross Road (MD 144) Westbound exit and entrance; eastbound access is at exit 47
47.17 75.91 47 US 220 north (MD 144) – Bedford East end of US 220 overlap; signed as exit 46 eastbound
Rocky Gap State Park 51.26 82.49 50 Pleasant Valley Road (MD 948D)
  52.50 84.49 52 MD 144 east (National Pike) Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
Flintstone 55.95 90.04 56 MD 144 (National Pike) – Flintstone
Green Ridge State Forest 62.92 101.26 62
US 40 Scenic east / Fifteen Mile Creek Road
64.19 103.30 64 M.V. Smith Road
  68.72 110.59 68 Orleans Road
  71.64 115.29 72
To US 40 Scenic / High Germany Road, Swain Road
Washington   73.59 118.43 74
To US 40 Scenic east / Mountain Road
Eastbound exit and westbound entrance
  Sideling Hill Cut
  77.15 124.16 77
US 40 Scenic west to MD 144 / Woodmont Road
Hancock 81.09 130.50 82 I-70 / US 40 east / US 522 – Hancock, Hagerstown, Winchester, VA, Breezewood, PA East end of US 40 overlap, eastern terminus and signed as exits 82A (US 522 south), 82B (I-70 / US 40 east) and 82C (I-70 west / US 522 north); I-70 exit 1A
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Exit list

On the east side of Sideling Hill, I-68 again interchanges with US 40 Scenic, at its eastern terminus at Woodmont Road. Here US 40 Scenic ends at a section of MD 144 separate from the section further west. Four miles (six kilometers) east of this interchange, I-68 ends at I-70 and U.S. Route 522 in the town of Hancock.[2]

I-68 crosses into Washington County at Sideling Hill Creek and ascends Sideling Hill. The road cut that was built into Sideling Hill for I-68 can be seen for several miles in each direction, and has become a tourist attraction as a result of the geologic structure exposed by the road cut.[43]

At exit 44 in east Cumberland, US 40 ALT meets the freeway and ends, and at exit 46, US 220 leaves I-68 and runs northward toward Bedford, Pennsylvania. I-68 continues across northeastern Allegany County, passing Rocky Gap State Park near exit 50. In northeastern Allegany County, the former US 40 bypassed by I-68 is designated as Maryland Route 144 (MD 144), with several exits from I-68 along the route. I-68 crosses several mountain ridges along this section of the highway, including Martins Mountain, Town Hill, and Green Ridge, and the highway passes through Green Ridge State Forest. East of Green Ridge State Forest, MD 144 ends at U.S. Route 40 Scenic (US 40 Scenic), another former section of US 40.[2]

A highway passes through a cut through a mountain. The rock walls of the cut are visible above the highway.
I-68 passing through the Sideling Hill road cut

Until 2008, signs at exit 43A in downtown Cumberland labeled the exit as providing access to West Virginia Route 28 Alternate (WV 28 ALT). Because of this, many truckers used this exit to get to West Virginia Route 28 (WV 28). This created problems on WV 28 ALT in Ridgeley, West Virginia, as trucks became stuck under a low railroad overpass, blocking traffic through Ridgeley. To reduce this problem, the Maryland State Highway Administration removed references to WV 28 ALT from guide signs for exit 43A and placed warning signs in Cumberland and on I-68 approaching Cumberland advising truckers to instead use exit 43B to Maryland Route 51, which allows them to connect to WV 28 via Virginia Avenue, bypassing the low overpass in Ridgeley.[42]

East of Frostburg, I-68 crosses a bridge above Spruce Hollow near Clarysville, passing over Maryland Route 55, which runs along the bottom of the valley. The freeway runs along the hillside above US 40 ALT in the valley formed by Braddock Run. Entering LaVale, I-68 has exits to US 40 ALT and MD 658 (signed southbound as U.S. Route 220 Truck). I-68 ascends Haystack Mountain, entering the city of Cumberland. This is the most congested section of the highway in Maryland. The speed limit on the highway drops from 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) in LaVale to 55 miles per hour (89 km/h) until the US 220 exit, and to 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) in downtown Cumberland.[2] This drop in the speed limit is due to several factors, including heavy congestion, closely spaced interchanges, and a sharp curve in the road, known locally as "Moose Curve," located at the bottom of Haystack Mountain. This section of the highway was originally built in the 1960s as the Cumberland Thruway, a bypass to the original path of U.S. Route 40 through Cumberland.[5]

After entering Allegany County, I-68 bypasses Frostburg to the south, with two exits, one to Midlothian Road (unsigned Maryland Route 736) and one to MD 36. Near the MD 36 exit is God's Ark of Safety church, which is known for its attempt to build a replica of Noah's Ark. This replica, which currently consists of a steel frame, can be seen from I-68.[41]

The traffic density on I-68 in Garrett County is rather sparse compared to that of Allegany County. At the Maryland—West Virginia state line, there is an annual average daily traffic of 11,581. This density increases to its highest point in Garrett County at exit 22, where US 219 leaves I-68; 19,551 vehicles per day drive through this section. At the Allegany County line, the traffic density decreases slightly to 18,408. In Allegany County, the vehicle count increases to 28,861 in LaVale, and to the freeway's peak of 46,191 at the first US 220 interchange (exit 42) in Cumberland. East of Cumberland, the vehicle count decreases to 16,551 at Martins Mountain and stays nearly constant to the eastern terminus of I-68 in Hancock.[2]

A view of a creek with a truss bridge in the near background and another bridge in the far background.
The I-68 bridge over the Casselman River near Grantsville, Maryland, with the U.S. Route 40 Alternate bridge in the foreground

The section of I-68 west of Dans Mountain in Allegany County is located in the Allegheny Mountains, characterized in Garrett County by a series of uphill and downhill stretches along the freeway, each corresponding to a ridge that the freeway crosses. In Allegany County, the freeway crosses the Allegheny Front, where, from Savage Mountain to LaVale, the highway drops in elevation by 1,800 feet (550 m) in a distance of 9 miles (14 km).[39][40]

After entering Garrett County, I-68 continues its run through rural areas, crossing the northern part of the county. The terrain through this area consists of ridges that extend from southwest to northeast, with I-68 crossing the ridges through its east/west run. The first exit in Maryland is at Maryland Route 42 in Friendsville. I-68 ascends Keysers Ridge, where it meets US 40 and US 219, both of which join the highway at Keysers Ridge.[2] The roadway that used to be the surface alignment of US 40 parallels I-68 to Cumberland, and is now designated as US 40 ALT. I-68 crosses Negro Mountain, which was the highest point along the historic National Road that the freeway parallels east of Keysers Ridge. This is the source of the name of the freeway in Maryland: the National Freeway.[5] Three miles (five kilometers) east of Grantsville, US 219 leaves the National Freeway to run northward towards Meyersdale, Pennsylvania, while I-68 continues eastward, crossing Savage Mountain before entering Allegany County.[2]

A sign adjacent to a four-lane highway reads
Entering Maryland from West Virginia on I-68 East towards Cumberland


[38] The peak traffic density on Interstate 68 in West Virginia is 32,900

The region of West Virginia through which the freeway passes is rural and mountainous. There are several sections that have steep grades, especially near the Cheat River Canyon, where there is a truck escape ramp in case trucks lose their brakes descending the steep grade.[37]

I-68 spans 112.6 miles (181.2 km)—81.1 miles (130.5 km) in Maryland and 31.5 miles (50.7 km) in West Virginia—connecting Cumberland, and Hancock.[34] I-68 is the main route connecting western Maryland to the rest of Maryland. I-68 is also advertised to drivers on I-70 as an "alternate route to Ohio and points west" by the Maryland State Highway Administration.[35]

West Virginia

A sign above the highway reads
I-68 at the West Virginia–Maryland state line

I-68 begins at interchange 148 on I-79 near Morgantown and runs eastward, meeting with I-68 again runs eastward, interchanging with West Virginia Route 43, which provides access to Cheat Lake and Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Near this interchange, I-68 passes over Cheat Lake and climbs a steep ascent out of Cheat Canyon.[36]

Entering Preston County, the route interchanges with County Route 73/12, which provides access to I-68 crosses is more rural, with the only town along the route being Bruceton Mills. In Bruceton Mills, I-68 meets West Virginia Route 26. I-68 meets County Route 5 (Hazleton Road) at its last exit before entering Garrett County, Maryland.[36]

Route description

In May 2015, Maryland passed a law to increase the state's maximum speed limit. The speed limit was changed from 65 to 70 miles per hour (105 to 113 km/h). October 1 of the same year, this law was put into effect, making I-68's speed limit 70 mph except for the Cumberland area. Other Interstates in Maryland could also have their speed limit raised.[33] West Virginia's speed limit is already 70 mph.

On September 15, 2014, Cameron, then Cameron to Moundsville.[32]

In the 1990s, there was discussion about a future westward extension to I-68. Such an extension would connect the western terminus of I-68 in Morgantown to West Virginia Route 2 (WV 2) in Moundsville. A 1989 proposal had suggested a toll road be built along this corridor.[30] In 2003, the Federal Highway Administration approved the extension, paving the way for federal funding and for the road to become part of the National Highway System on completion.[1] However, the project ran into problems due to lack of funds, and in 2008, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin suggested dropping the project altogether, making construction of a westward extension of I-68 unlikely in the near future.[31]

Proposed extension

One of the arguments in favor of the construction of I-68 was that the freeway would improve the poor economic conditions in western Maryland. The economy of the surrounding area has improved since the construction of the freeway, especially in Garrett County, where the freeway opened up the county to tourism from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Correspondingly, Garrett County saw a sharp increase in population and employment during and after the construction of the road, with full- and part-time employment increasing from 8,868 in 1976 to 15,334 in 1991.[27] However, economic difficulties remain in Allegany and Garrett counties.[28] There were concerns over loss of customers to businesses that have been cut off from the main highway due to the construction of the new alignment in the 1980s, leading to protests when then-Governor Harry Hughes visited the Sideling Hill road cut when it was opened.[29]

A small town is seen below a mountain ridge which contains a deep V-shaped cut.
The Sideling Hill road cut, photographed from Interstate 70 east of the mountain

Effect on surrounding region

On May 23, 2003, poor visibility due to fog was a major contributing factor to an 85-vehicle pileup on I-68 on Savage Mountain west of Frostburg. Two people were killed and nearly 100 people were injured in the pileup. Because of the extent of the wreckage on the road, I-68 remained blocked for 24 hours while the wreckage was cleared.[24] In the aftermath of the pileup, the question of how to deal with fog in the future was discussed. Though the cost of a fog warning system can be considerable, MDSHA installed such a system in 2005 at a cost of $230,000 ($275,000 in 2013[13]).[25][26] The system alerts drivers when visibility drops below 1,000 feet (300 m).[26]

Numerous accidents and incidents have occurred on I-68. On June 1, 1991, a gasoline tanker descending into downtown Cumberland from the east attempted to exit the freeway at exit 43D, Maryland Avenue. The tanker went out of control and overturned as the driver tried to go around the sharp turn at the exit. Gasoline began to leak from the damaged tanker, forcing the evacuation of a three-block area of Cumberland. Approximately 30 minutes later, the tanker exploded, setting eight houses on fire. The fire caused an estimated $250,000 in damages (equivalent to $543,000 in 2013[13]), and prompted MDSHA to place signs prohibiting hazardous materials trucks from exiting at the Maryland Avenue exit.[21][22][23]


With the completion of I-68 and the change in its route number, the US 48 designation was removed. In 2002, AASHTO approved the establishment of a new US 48, this time for the Corridor H highway from Weston, West Virginia to Strasburg, Virginia.[19] This marks the third time that the US 48 number has been assigned to a highway, the first use being for a highway in California that existed in the 1920s.[20]

[5] This change took effect upon the completion of the last section of the National Freeway, on August 2, 1991.[18].I-68 designation to US 48's That same year, AASHTO approved changing [18].Interstate 595 to I-68 freeway from US 50, as the completion of the freeway neared, the possibility of the freeway being designated as an US 48 Though the National Freeway was designated as

A four-lane highway descending a hill, with more hills visible in the background.
View heading east, 18 miles (29 km) from Cumberland, MD

Designation as I-68

In the 1980s, the focus of construction shifted to the east of Cumberland, where a 19-mile (31 km) section of the road still had not been completed. The first corridor for the construction to be approved by the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA) ran south of U.S. Route 40. This corridor would have bypassed towns in eastern Allegany County such as Flintstone, leaving them without access to the freeway, and would have passed directly through Green Ridge State Forest, the largest state forest in Maryland. This proposed corridor provoked strong opposition, largely due to the environmental damage that would be caused by the road construction in Green Ridge State Forest. Environmental groups sued MDSHA in order to halt the planned construction, but the court ruled in favor of the State Highway Administration. In 1984, however, MDSHA reversed its earlier decision and chose an alignment that closely paralleled US 40, passing through Flintstone and to the north of Green Ridge State Forest. Construction on the final section of I-68 began May 25, 1987, and was completed on August 2, 1991.[5][16]

Much of the work in building the freeway was completed during the 1970s, with US 48 being opened from Vocke Road in LaVale to Maryland Route 36 in Frostburg on October 12, 1973, and to Maryland Route 546 on November 1, 1974.[5][15] On November 15, 1975, the West Virginia portion and a 14-mile (23 km) portion from the West Virginia state line to Keysers Ridge in Maryland opened, followed by the remainder of the freeway in Garrett County on August 13, 1976.[5]

The construction of Corridor E, which was also designated as US 48, took over 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars to complete. The cost of completing the freeway in West Virginia has been estimated at $113 million (equivalent to $695 million in 2013[13])[14] The cost of building I-68 from Cumberland to the West Virginia state line came to $126 million ($775 million in 2013[13]); the portion between Cumberland and Sideling Hill cost $182 million ($396 million in 2013[13]); and the section at Sideling Hill cost $44 million ($96 million in 2013[13]).[5]

[12].I-68 It was this corridor that would eventually become [11][6]. At the time, there were no freeways along the corridor, though construction on the Cumberland Thruway began that year.Hancock, Maryland in I-70 In 1965, the Appalachian Development Act was passed, authorizing the establishment of the

U.S. Route 48
Location: Hancock, Maryland
Existed: 1965–1991

Corridor E

Construction began on one of the first sections of what would become I-68, the Cumberland Thruway, on June 10, 1965.[6] This portion of the highway, which consists of a mile-long elevated bridge, was completed and opened to the public on December 5, 1966.[7] The elevated highway connected Lee Street in west Cumberland to Maryland Avenue in east Cumberland, providing a quicker path for motorists traveling through the town on US 40 and US 220. The Cumberland Thruway was extended to US 220 and then to Vocke Road (Maryland Route 658) by 1970.[8][9] Problems quickly emerged with the highway, especially near an area called "Moose Curve." At Moose Curve, the road curves sharply at the bottom of Haystack Mountain, and traffic accidents are common.[10]

In the early 1960s, as the Interstate Highway System was being built throughout the United States, east-west travel through western Maryland was difficult, as US 40, the predecessor to I-68, was a two-lane country road with steep grades and hairpin turns.[5] In Cumberland, the traffic situation was particularly problematic, as the usage of US 40 exceeded the capacity of the city's narrow streets.[5] Traffic following US 40 through Cumberland entered through the Cumberland Narrows and followed Henderson Avenue to Baltimore Avenue. After the construction of I-68, this route through Cumberland became U.S. Route 40 Alternate.[2]

Cumberland Thruway

A highway bridge passes above a creek, with a railroad bridge visible in the background.
The Cumberland Thruway bridge, as seen from the Baltimore Street bridge over Wills Creek in Cumberland

US 40 followed the route of the National Road through Pennsylvania and Maryland. The National Road was the first federally funded road built in the United States, authorized by Congress in 1806. Construction lasted from 1811 to 1837, establishing a road that extended from Cumberland to Vandalia, Illinois. Upon the establishment of the U.S. Highway system in 1926, the route of the National Road became part of U.S. Route 40.[4]

At Bruceton Mills, WV 73 ended at WV 26, which from there runs northeast into Pennsylvania, becoming Pennsylvania Route 281 at the state line and meeting US 40 north of the border. From there eastbound traffic would follow US 40 into Maryland. I-68 now parallels US 40 through western Maryland.[3]

Prior to the construction of the freeway from Morgantown to Hancock, several different routes carried traffic across the region. West Virginia Route 73 extended from 857. Between I-68's exit 10 at Cheat Lake and exit 15 at Coopers Rock, I-68 was largely built directly over old WV 73's roadbed.




  • History 1
    • Predecessors 1.1
    • Cumberland Thruway 1.2
    • Corridor E 1.3
    • Designation as I-68 1.4
    • Incidents 1.5
    • Effect on surrounding region 1.6
    • Proposed extension 1.7
  • Route description 2
    • West Virginia 2.1
    • Maryland 2.2
  • Exit list 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

U.S. Route 219 and U.S. Route 220 overlap with I-68 in Garrett County, Maryland and Cumberland, Maryland, respectively, and U.S. Route 40 overlaps with the freeway from Keysers Ridge to the eastern end of the freeway at Hancock.

The construction of I-68 began in 1965 and continued for over 25 years, with completion on August 2, 1991. While the road was under construction, it was predicted that economic conditions would improve along the corridor for the five counties connected by I-68: Cumberland, Maryland. Despite the fact that the freeway serves no major metropolitan areas, I-68 provides a major transportation route in western Maryland and northern West Virginia and also provides an alternative to the Pennsylvania Turnpike for westbound traffic from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

exposed geological features of the mountain and has become a tourist attraction. Sideling Hill. The freeway mainly spans rural areas and crosses numerous mountain ridges along its route. A road cut at Hancock and Keysers Ridge parallels between I-68, which National Road, an homage to the historic National Freeway. In Maryland, the highway is known as the (US 48) U.S. Route 48. From 1965 until the freeway's construction was completed in 1991, it was designated as Appalachian Development Highway System of the Corridor E is also I-68. Hancock in Interstate 70

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