After World War II, freeway approaches were planned for both sides of the Ben Franklin Bridge, which was completed in 1926 and served as a part of US 30. In Pennsylvania, the Vine Street Expressway was planned to run along the northern edge of Center City Philadelphia to the Schuylkill River, while in New Jersey, the North-South Freeway was to head south along the Route 42 corridor. When the Interstate Highway System was created in the 1950s, this stretch of highway was a part of I-80S, with Interstate 680 continuing on the Schuylkill Expressway to the Walt Whitman Bridge. In 1964, the designations became I-76 and I-676, respectively, and in 1972 the two routes were switched onto their current alignments. I-676 in New Jersey was completed between I-76 and Morgan Boulevard by 1960 and north of there to downtown Camden by the 1980s. The Vine Street Expressway was opened from the Schuylkill Expressway to 18th Street by 1960 and east of there to I-95 on January 10, 1991 after several obstacles to construction. However, there are grade-level intersections in the connections between the Vine Street Expressway and the Ben Franklin Bridge.
After crossing the bridge, the freeway enters the downtown area of Camden in Camden County, New Jersey and passes to the north of Campbell's Field. Upon entering New Jersey, I-676 becomes signed as a north-south road. There is a southbound ramp to 6th Street in Camden, which is near the toll booths for northbound traffic. After the toll plaza, US 30 splits from I-676 at an interchange, at which point I-676 turns south as a six-lane freeway called the Martin Luther King Memorial Highway or the North-South Freeway. Immediately after the US 30 split, there is an interchange with CR 537 (Market Street/Federal Street) and Martin Luther King Boulevard that provides access to downtown Camden. From this point, I-676 continues south through urban areas of the city, passing over several streets and running immediately to the west of a Conrail Shared Assets Operations railroad line. The road heads southwest on a viaduct over neighborhoods before the interchange with CR 607 (Kaighns Avenue) and Atlantic Avenue. I-676 turns south at this junction and comes to the exit for Morgan Boulevard. Past Morgan Boulevard, the freeway crosses the North Branch of Newton Creek. Here, I-676 ends at an interchange east of the Walt Whitman Bridge with I-76, CR 630, and Route 76C, the latter being an access road to US 130 and Route 168. The North-South Freeway becomes a part of I-76 past this interchange and continues into Gloucester City.
The Ben Franklin Bridge was opened on July 1, 1926 and was designated to carry US 30 across the Delaware River. A parkway called the Camden-Atlantic City Parkway was planned in 1932 to connect the Ben Franklin Bridge southeast to Atlantic City; this was never built. After World War II, freeway connections were planned on both sides of the Ben Franklin Bridge. In Philadelphia, the Vine Street Expressway was planned to run along the Vine Street corridor to the present-day Schuylkill Expressway in 1945. The North-South Freeway was proposed in New Jersey as a connection from the bridge south along the Route 42 corridor. In 1950, the city of Philadelphia began planning the construction of the Vine Street Expressway, which would run along a depressed alignment through the city.
When the Interstate Highway System was created in the 1950s, the Vine Street Expressway, Ben Franklin Bridge, and part of the North-South Freeway were to become a part of it. In New Jersey, this Interstate was initially designated as FAI Corridor 109. In 1958, this freeway was initially planned as I-895 and I-380 before the American Association of State Highway Officials designated it as a part of I-80S. Meanwhile, I-680 was designated along the present-day Schuylkill Expressway between the Vine Street Expressway and the Walt Whitman Bridge. By 1960, the Vine Street Expressway had been completed between the Schuylkill Expressway and 18th Street. The portion of I-80S in New Jersey on the North-South Freeway had opened south of Morgan Boulevard by this time. On April 16, 1963, Pennsylvania wanted to renumber its Interstate numbers. Part of this was the renumbering from I-80S into I-76, and all of its auxiliary routes into I-x76. The Federal Highway Administration approved the request on February 26, 1964. As a result, I-80S became I-76 and I-680 became I-676. In 1972, the I-76 and the I-676 designations were switched onto their current routes. The remainder of the New Jersey portion of I-676 between Morgan Boulevard and US 30 was completed by the 1980s.
There were several challenges in building the Vine Street Expressway between 18th Street and the Ben Franklin Bridge. The road was to run through developed areas of Philadelphia, intersecting several streets and railroad lines. In addition, the route was to run through Franklin Square, a historically sensitive site, to connect to the Ben Franklin Bridge. As a result, the routing was modified in 1966 to avoid many of these obstacles. The route was to avoid running through Franklin Square, leading to the eastbound direction using surface streets to access the Ben Franklin Bridge, and a planned connector to Market Street was removed. In the 1970s, the proposed freeway’s environmental impact statement had to be evaluated again per new guidelines; when the new environmental impact statement was issued in 1977, it was found that more improvements were needed for mass transit in the area of the planned freeway. To comply with this, provisions were made concerning the proposed underground Center City Commuter Connection for SEPTA Regional Rail, in which the railroad tracks would pass under I-676 and residences would be built over the railroad tunnel in Chinatown. Construction was approved in 1986 on the Vine Street Expressway from 18th Street to the Ben Franklin Bridge, with no provisions for elevated connections between the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Vine Street Expressway to avoid disturbing Franklin Square. This portion of the Vine Street Expressway opened to traffic on January 10, 1991, completing I-676.
^Regional Expressway System. Philadelphia City Planning Commission. 1966.
^Interstate 676, Vine Street Expressway: Administrative Action Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Section 4(f) Statement. Federal Highway Administration and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. 1977.