EDITORIAL: Planning, safety key to road projects
A view of the Mount Rose Avenue, Interstate 83 construction project from a drone.
“What a freakin’ mess.”
That was the reaction of one woman on a York Dispatch Facebook post when describing new, temporary traffic patterns at the Mount Rose Avenue/Interstate 83 interchange.
She’s certainly not alone in her frustration.
Another woman called it a “nightmare” and “ridiculous.” Yet another called it “confusing.”
Many other motorists have taken to social media to vent their exasperation about what they view as poor planning.
Could the planning for the project been better?
It certainly seems so.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation must, however, revisit its planning, signage and communication policies with an eye toward mitigating traffic snarls that add to the already-frustrating ordeal of getting around in York County.
There’s one thing, however, that can’t be debated.
Every major road project at a busy interchange has the potential to be “a freakin' mess.”
You can't avoid some measure of disruption. And it is up to the state and the road contractors to minimize that chaos.
And make no mistake, the project at the Mount Rose Avenue/Interstate 83 interchange is a major project — to the tune of $58.3 million.
On Wednesday, Sept. 6, work began at the interchange to reconstruct and widen 1.3 miles of the interstate and rebuild the interchange.
Not surprisingly, during the morning and afternoon rush hours, long lines of vehicles have stacked up in traffic jams.
Some advice: Also not surprisingly, patience is wearing thin. There's no question it’s having a negative impact on the quality of life of every driver who must navigate through or around the project.
So our advice?
Avoid the interchange if possible, especially during rush hours. Yes, you’ll have to go out of your way. Yes, it will take more time. And yes, the alternate routes will collect more traffic. Still, it’s likely a better option than sitting at a standstill in backed-up traffic, feeling your blood pressure start to boil.
If you can’t avoid the interchange during peak times, make sure to stay alert, obey all traffic signs and do your absolute best to keep the road workers safe. That must be a priority. Eventually, as drivers learn the intricacies of the temporary traffic patterns, things should start to go a little more smoothly.
Most of all, however, be patient and be safe.
Thankfully, most drivers seem to be doing just that thus far. According to nearby emergency officials, there has not been an abnormal spike in accidents in the area. That’s good thing.
And according to PennDOT, there hasn’t even been an abundance of complaints about poor planning, communication or signage.
That's a bit surprising to us.
Of course, PennDOT is probably used to hearing complaints. It’s just a part of being in the road construction business. It’s expected.
Good news: Here’s the good news. The project will eventually be completed, and when it is, area motorists should benefit from more pleasant traveling experience at the interchange.
In the meantime, however, we must endure some short-term pain for long-term gain.
Roadwork is never convenient, and it’s always frustrating. The degree to which it frustrates drivers must be mitigated by traffic planners.
It's important that we citizens remain aware of these projects in the planning stages to get information and provide input whenever possible.
And the professionals must ensure they carry them out thoughtfully, and with the least amount of pain possible.