I-83 East Shore Section 3
The I-83 East Shore Section 3 project is located west of the Eisenhower Interchange near 29th Street to the Susquehanna River. The proposed improvements include widening the mainline I-83 corridor to three mainline lanes in each direction with additional lanes providing access to upgraded interchanges via a collector-distributor roadway.
PennDOT selected Harrisburg-based HNTB Corporation to perform preliminary engineering and environmental studies for the I-83 East Shore Section 3 project. These studies include conducting environmental field investigations, reviewing traffic modeling, and evaluating alignment and interchange options.
In 2016, existing traffic data was collected via helicopter using time-lapse aerial photography. This data was then used to build a traffic model to provide the designers information to determine the number of lanes needed on I-83, as well as the breakdown of the type of travel I-83 is being used for (regional vs. local to the Harrisburg area). The traffic data collected for the project showed that approximately half of the traffic using the I-83 corridor is traveling local to the Harrisburg area and not just passing through. Approximately half of the traffic using the I-83 corridor from the south (York area and West Shore) is exiting I-83 to head into Harrisburg, and approximately 40% of traffic from the north (Hershey and Lancaster areas) is local traffic exiting I-83 to head into Harrisburg. This is a very large percentage of traffic that is considered local and not traveling from one end of I-83 to the other. The traffic model was used as a foundation for the development and evaluation of project alternatives which addressed the regional and local project needs.
Survey crews collected isolated data on site to supplement the aerial mapping throughout the project process. This information will provide designers with details on the existing roadway to help develop the proposed improvements.
Preliminary environmental information and a scoping field view was completed in 2017 as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The scoping field view included Federal Highway Administration staff, PennDOT staff, and PennDOT’s consultants from various disciplines and focused on highway, traffic, structures, environmental, hazardous waste, and cultural resources. The team discussed the location and potential impacts on resources, which resulted in FHWA making a recommendation of the type of environmental document/analysis, and the project team agreed on further studies to pursue in preliminary design.
Environmental field investigations were conducted to identify resources such as streams, wetlands, public parks and other community resources, historic properties, archaeological resources, and potential waste sites throughout the project area. Noise monitoring was also conducted throughout the project area. Similar to traffic data, the noise monitoring data was used to model changes in predicted noise levels that assisted in identifying if noise walls will be considered.
During the environmental investigations and alternative development, various stakeholder meetings were conducted. Designers developed an alternative to improve the highway and address the transportation needs to improve traffic flow and safety, replace aging infrastructure and design, and improve access for pedestrians and bicyclist which was a newly identified need within the I-83 corridor. In addition, the Recommended Preferred Alternative and environmental features were presented at a public meeting in October 2018. Further stakeholder and public input was received and considered in the environmental document.
On October 2, 2019, the Federal Highway Administration approved the environmental document, a Categorical Exclusion, for the I-83 East Shore Section 3 project. The environmental document identified the selected alternative, addressed potential environmental, social, cultural, and economic impacts of the proposed project, and documented how FHWA and PennDOT will avoid, minimize or mitigate any impacts. It also identified proposed improvements associated with the project that could enhance or provide benefits to the community. The official approved environmental document is located in the PennDOT CE Expert System, use this link to download the Categorical Exclusion PDF . For any questions on the environmental document or any of the preliminary engineering activities, please contact the PennDOT Senior Project Manager, John M. Bachman, at email@example.com or 717-783-4519.
Current Project Status
As we transition from preliminary engineering into final design, we continue to look at opportunities to further minimize right of way impacts. We wanted to share some revisions that have been incorporated into the design.
The Paxton Street realignment has been shifted to follow a southern alignment which falls within areas proposed to be affected by other requirements of the project. This eliminates or reduces impacts to several properties on the northern side of Paxton Street to the west of I-83.
In conjunction with a separate study prepared for Paxton Street, the existing pavement markings between 13th Street and 20th Street will be converted from a four-lane section with no exclusive turn lanes to single lanes in each direction with a continuous center left turn lane with a dedicated left turn lane at intersections. This will also provide new six-foot shoulders on both sides of Paxton Street for bicyclists. This is similar to the existing Paxton Street configuration east of 20th Street.
The ramps at the 19th Street Interchange have been pulled closer to northbound I-83 to minimize impacts to buildings and property on the southern side of the Interstate corridor.
To find out more about NEPA and environmental investigations conducted during preliminary engineering – please visit PennDOT’s Environmental Policy and Development Section website.
Final design is now underway for the selected alternative where efforts will continue to further minimize right-of-way impacts associated with the engineering design. In addition, stakeholder meetings will also continue to occur. Opportunities for input on aesthetic treatments and other project features will be coordinated with stakeholders over the course of the project. Due to the size of the project, three construction contracts are anticipated to complete the overall project construction. Once the sequencing of the contracts is established, a detailed schedule for obtaining environmental permits, acquiring necessary right-of-way, and relocating utilities will be established. Actual mainline construction could start as soon as 2022.