On the eve of the opening, newspaper articles focused on expectations of time savings and safety from the new highway.

The expressway was anticipated to save 22 minutes in travel time for commuters driving between New York and the Nation's Capital, according to estimates at the time of its construction.

With much traffic expected to abandon Route 40, with its scores of intersections and private entrances, for a more modern, safer road, many lives were expected to be saved, as well.

Unmanned tolls

The route of the new expressway required the construction of a new Susquehanna River crossing, the most expensive aspect of the Maryland segment of the project.

The choice of location for what became the bridge named in memory of Havre de Grace resident and U.S. Sen. Millard E. Tydings, sparked considerable political debate and horse trading in the halls of the State House in Annapolis, as well as among the movers and shakers in Harford politics and businesses, before the location a few miles north of downtown Havre de Grace was picked.

In addition to a toll barrier in Cecil County, just north of the bridge, automatic unmanned toll booths, which depended on a driver's honesty to pay, were constructed in Harford at the interchanges with Routes 22, 24 and 155. The toll at the bridge was $1; a quarter at the interchanges. (The Route 152 interchange in Joppa was added some years later and also had an unmanned toll booth southbound.)

The first few days of implementation of the toll roads were not the smoothest.

A large amount of bent coins and tokens were removed from the three toll machine in the county, according to accounts published in Harford's three newspapers at the time. Often, even when a driver paid the fare, the violation bell would still sound, signaling a non-payment.

Despite the early glitches, which would persist for the ensuing two decades before the automatic tolls were removed, The Aegis reported the majority of motorists were actually abiding by the rules, and the machines showed a high yield of coins, "indicating as unexpected honest policy on the part of motorist."

Many businesses affected

As the weeks grew closer to the opening of the Northeastern Expressway, local restaurant, motel and gas station owners along the Route 40 corridor feared the coming highway would wipe out their business clientele.

From the jump, the worst was realized. Within days of the opening of the Northeastern Expressway, many of the businesses along the Route 40 corridor saw their client base cut nearly in half, according to a report in The Aegis.

"I-95 Expressway opened up commerce and people's ability to travel, but it wasn't without controversy," James said. "My dad and many other people had to stick with the vision that highway would help."

Experts figured the Northeastern Expressway would cause harm to the motel business, but reckoned other businesses would fare better, as locals would continue to patronize them. In addition, the new highway was expected to bring thousands of new residents to the counties along its route, who would in turn spur more commerce.

For The Bayou, an American style restaurant along Route 40 in Havre de Grace, some of hypotheses held true.

Amanda DiDomenico-McFadden, 54, whose family opened the restaurant in 1950, said the entire business community along the Route 40 corridor was concerned about the coming highway.

"When my parents started the restaurant Route 40 was a thoroughfare," DiDomenico-McFadden said. "If you were going anywhere you were going to pass the restaurant and when I-95 came it took some of the clientele from the restaurant."

The Bayou was able to survive despite the expressway because of its large local client base, DiDomenico-McFadden said. She said she does not recall her parents complaining much about the highway's impact in comparison to the motel across Route 40 from the Bayou, which was owned by friends of the family.

"We were lucky, my parents had a lot of local customers so they weren't depending on just the traffic of people going by," DiDomenico-McFadden said.