'What a freakin' mess': Mount Rose/I-83 work frustrating motorists

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch

The new, temporary traffic patterns at the Mount Rose Avenue/Interstate 83 interchange are frustrating motorists, including some who have taken to social media to vent at what they say was poor planning.

“Avoid Mt Rose and 83 like the plague,” MaryAnn Beaverson wrote on a York Dispatch Facebook post. “What a freakin mess.”

Beth Spahr called the interchange a “nightmare” and described waiting through “many light cycles” on Greenhill Road when a tractor-trailer got stuck in the new, tight left-turn lane to reach I-83 South.

New traffic patterns in the Mount Rose Avenue construction area are causing traffic woes, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. John A. Pavoncello photo

“So we all sit while he backs up and goes forward a few times,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “It’s ridiculous.”

The project: Work began Wednesday, Sept. 6, to implement the new traffic pattern in the southbound lanes on I-83 near Mount Rose Avenue, part of a $58.3 million project to reconstruct and widen 1.3 miles of the interstate and rebuild the interchange.

I-83 southbound traffic is now restricted to one lane, and interstate traffic south of Mount Rose Avenue has been shifted to the west, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said.

At the same time, traffic on Mount Rose Avenue, also known as Route 124, has shifted north, according to the department.

In the coming weeks, northbound I-83 traffic will be shifted to the west, which will create a work zone on the east side of the highway.

When this phase of the work is complete, the existing ramp from Mount Rose Avenue to I-83 south will be permanently closed, and a new on-ramp, which is about 350 feet away from the existing ramp, will be opened to traffic, PennDOT said.

Drivers say traffic patterns are confusing at the Mt. Rose and I-83 construction project. Jana Benscoter/photo

While this is being constructed, westbound traffic on Mount Rose Avenue will not turn left onto I-83 south because of a lack of width or a left-turn lane on Mount Rose Avenue, according to PennDOT.

Delays: What this all means for motorists, particularly during morning and afternoon rush hours, is long lines stretching up the Route 124 hill to the east and on Mount Rose Avenue west toward York City.

York City resident Rose Allison said she's avoiding the interchange. Allison, who works at Subway in Gabriel Brothers Plaza, said her travel time has doubled from 15 minutes one way to 30 minutes one way. 

“I haven’t tried to get on 83 yet, but I see how it’s confusing to people,” she said. “Especially, if you’re traveling southbound, drivers are in the wrong lane. They’re cutting people off.”

PennDOT spokesman Mike Crochunis said he thinks the new traffic patterns are starting to click for drivers.

“People are starting to get used to it, that you have to get into the right lane to go south,” he said.

Crochunis said PennDOT hasn't received an abundance of complaints about poor planning, communication or signage.

York Area United Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Jay Van Pelt said his unit, which is located near I-83, is not responding to an abnormal spike in accidents in the area.

“Fortunately, we have a station nearby that we can get to an accident pretty quickly,” he added.

Van Pelt said he isn't overly concerned about emergency delays responding to any potential accidents because of either construction or distracted driving. 

PennDot is keeping the Springettsbury Township Police Department up-to-date on the project, Chief Daniel Stump said. Stump confirmed a tractor-trailer on Greenhill Road was stuck, but that's the only traffic pattern incident he knows of. 

"It wasn't in the heart of the project," Stump said. "It has not been brought to my attention, any real serious or real dangerous situations. If I did hear of any, I would need to go back to PennDOT to tell them."  

Drivers using the Mount Rose corridor need to be attentive, Stump stressed. 

Van Pelt suggested the best approach to merge onto I-83 southbound is to use the Market Street interchange.

East/west woes: However, East Market Street is about to undergo a $2.39 million construction upgrade, too.

Prep work for East Market Street will begin Monday, Sept. 18, Crochunis said.

“It’s really not going to be affecting much of the traffic lanes,” the PennDOT spokesman said. “The road won’t be all torn up until the winter. They’ll ... have a winter shutdown and back in the spring once the weather is favorable.”

East Market Street, also known as Route 462, will be repaved from Harrison Street on the York City-Spring Garden Township line to just east of Route 24 in Springettsbury Township. Route 24 is also known as Mount Zion Road north of Route 462 and Edgewood Road to the south.

The project is expected to be finished in July 2018.

The Mount Rose infrastructure project began in April 2015. It was initially expected to wrap up in June 2018, but the date was pushed back to early 2019 because of  unanticipated hurdles such as fixing potholes and having to do extra excavation, as well as weather-related delays.

Van Pelt said it’s going to take time for construction crews to finish their work. He acknowledged that it will cause an inconvenience.

“People need to slow down and be alert and be patient,” Van Pelt said.

However, patience already appears to be wearing thin.

"Really wish there was planning and communication," Danita Belanger wrote on a York Dispatch Facebook post. "Construction fatigue is extreme in East York!!!"