The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation later this month will open bids for an estimated $23.7 million project at Interstate 83's Shrewsbury exit.

The offers will be opened on Jan. 31, and PennDOT spokesman Mike Crochunis said work on the busy interchange could begin by spring.

The chosen contractor will build a diverging diamond interchange, also called a double crossover, to relieve congestion at Exit 4 and improve safety, he said.

"The corridor is very congested and the on- and off-ramps need to be replaced," Crochunis said. "We feel this is a good fit because not only should it improve traffic, but it also has a minimal impact on the community and environment."

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The "minimal impact" did force Case & Keg, a local beer distributor, to relocate to the Market Square shopping center, 537 S. Main St., in Shrewsbury. No other businesses will be affected, Crochunis said.

According to PennDOT's website, the diverging diamond works like this:

Side road traffic, in this case on Route 851, crosses to the left side of the road at a signalized intersection before the bridge. This will allow left turns from the off-ramps to merge and allows for a left turn onto the on-ramp. 

Route 851 traffic then crosses back to the right side of the road at a signal past the bridge.

The design creates more green-light time to decrease congestion and reduce the number of conflict points, which is expected to reduce the number and severity of crashes.

In total, the project will create the new interchange, a longer bridge over Route 851, longer on- and off-ramps and two lanes in each direction on Route 851 between Mount Airy and Wolfe roads, according to PennDOT.  

The diverging diamond design is fairly new to the area, but PennDOT has implemented one in western Pennsylvania and "we're pretty happy with it," Crochunis said.

PennDOT hopes to begin the project by spring, but that depends on the availability of the contractor, Crochunis said. The project is slated to be finished in spring 2021.

The new interchange should meet the area's traffic needs through 2060, according to PennDOT.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.


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