Major I-83 widening project planned for York County
A view of the Mount Rose Avenue, Interstate 83 construction project from a drone.
The state Department of Transportation is planning another major project in York County, this one to widen a 5-mile stretch of Interstate 83 from four to eight lanes in the York City area.
PennDOT representatives and local township officials presented the latest design plans at an open house on March 29 at Central York Middle School, inviting the public to provide input and voice any concerns.
Since then, they have updated their website, www.i83northyork.com, to reiterate their overall goal for the project and include more details about the exchange improvements.
Adding lanes: The project's goal is to widen the interstate between the Market Street and North George Street exits to include three through lanes and a local lane, according to PennDOT spokesman Mike Crochunis.
However, Crochunis emphasized that the project is still at the very beginning of the design stage and is subject to change.
"We're just now putting it on paper," he said.
Exit 19 (Market Street): Exit 19, at East Market Street, is particularly dangerous, Crochunis said. It has a high traffic volume of exiting drivers, which creates an excessive queue. This leads to increased accidents at the interchange because of stopped and merging vehicles. The interchange also is too short for drivers to adequately accelerate, according to the site.
PennDOT has created two possible options to address the problem. In Option 1, I-83 would be shifted east to minimize any potential impacts to Mill Creek, and the highway would be raised over Market Street to meet vertical clearance requirements. All I-83 southbound traffic would exit to either East Philadelphia Street or North Belmont Street, according to the site.
Then, the I-83 southbound exit ramp to Elmwood Boulevard would be removed, and all northbound traffic to I-83 would use a new on ramp constructed near Industrial Highway.
However, Crochunis said that the first option will encroach on homeowners' properties in the North Hills Road area, and they may be asked by PennDOT if they would be willing to relocate. Public hearings will be held for all landowners whose properties may be affected by the project, Crochunis said.
"If they feel strongly that they want to stay, we will go with another option," he said.
In Option 2, all northbound traffic to I-83 would use new on-ramps constructed near East Philadelphia Street, rather than one near Industrial Highway.
Exit 21 (Arsenal Road): Problems with Exit 21 include its sharp curves and short weave areas, a high volume of traffic exiting to Route 30 and drivers who have difficulty merging and accelerating because of the design of the ramps.
PennDOT's proposed concept would raise I-83 over Route 30/Arsenal Road to meet vertical clearance requirements and construct a new off-ramp to Toronita Street for I-83 northbound traffic to Route 30 East. Drivers traveling from Route 30 West to I-83 southbound also would use a new on ramp constructed with Exit 22. Traffic signals would not be necessary with this concept, according to the site.
Exit 22 (North George Street): Exit 22 also is plagued with a short ramp that is inadequate for acceleration, a complicated intersection with Lightner Road and a high volume of exiting traffic that creates an excessive queue.
PennDOT's proposed solution would raise I-83 over North George Street to meet vertical clearance requirements, create a new on ramp at Skyview Road for all northbound traffic to I-83, add a new on/off ramp for North George Street near Heidelberg Avenue and add multi-lane roundabouts to improve traffic flow and reduce the number of accidents at the interchange.
North Hills Road project: Before the I-83 project begins, PennDOT will begin work on improving traffic flow on North Hills Road in Springettsbury Township, which drivers often use as a shortcut between I-83 and Route 30.
The project will widen the road to two lanes the entire way from Industrial Highway to Route 30. Construction may begin in early 2019, Crochunis said.
Why it's being done: The I-83 corridor between the Market Street and North George Street exchanges was constructed in 1958, and aside from some pavement patching, overlays and bridge work, no major renovations have occurred since it was built, according to Crochunis.
In the decades since, increased traffic has led to excessive congestion and accidents because of stopped and merging vehicles. Crochunis said that PennDOT's goal is to improve traffic flow and update the road's design to accommodate the modern demands of the area.
The estimated cost is between $270 million and $300 million, Crochunis said.
Proposed timeline: Construction may begin in 2021 and will last until 2026, according to the project's new website, www.i83northyork.com.
Future project updates will be posted on the website, and a video outlining the project's goals and design is available on the site, Crochunis said.
Mount Rose project: PennDOT is now in the midst of a $59.5 million project that includes the reconfiguration of I-83's Mount Rose Avenue interchange and the widening of a 1.3-mile section of the highway in that area.
That work began in April 2015 and is expected to wrap up in 2019.
Editor's note: This story has been changed to correct the spelling of PennDOT spokesman Mike Crochunis' name.