The I-83 East Shore Section 2 Eisenhower Interchange Reconstruction project in Dauphin County, PA is one of several projects PennDOT is advancing along a portion of the I-83 Capital Beltway, which extends from a junction with I-81 northeast of Harrisburg to the interchange with Route 581 across the Susquehanna River, south of Harrisburg in Cumberland County. The Harrisburg Capital Beltway encircles the city of Harrisburg, which is the capital of Pennsylvania, and surrounding municipalities. The Capital Beltway is vital to the economy of the Harrisburg region and is an important hub in the transportation network of the northeastern United States.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) selected McCormick Taylor in 2016 to perform preliminary engineering, environmental studies, and final design for this project that includes the reconstruction of the Eisenhower Interchange and portions of I-283, U.S. 322, and Eisenhower Boulevard. A design field view was submitted in September 2020 with a preliminary project construction cost estimated at over $700 million. This is one of PennDOT District 8’s biggest projects and one of the largest projects in Pennsylvania.
Over the next few months, we're going to highlight this massive project with a series of blog posts. First up are Project Manager Becky Mease, PE, and Lugene Keys, who leads the Planning & Communications for the I-83 East Shore Section 2 project.
BECKY MEASE, PE - PROJECT MANAGER
Tell us a little bit about what the project is and who it benefits.
The project serves to upgrade and replace the interchange of I-83, I-283, and U.S. 322, which was originally an at-grade intersection converted to an interchange in the 1960s as part of the development of the interstate highway system. In addition to the regional connections, the interchange will include local access connections to Derry Street and a reconfigured interchange that will connect I-83 to Paxton Street in the area of the Harrisburg Mall.
The I-83 East Shore Section 2, Eisenhower Interchange Reconstruction project will provide the following improvements to enhance the quality of life for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, emergency medical services, freight operators, and surrounding wildlife:
- Improved Roadway Conditions: Most of the existing pavement in the I-83 corridor is over 50 years old and has been repeatedly patched and overlaid while the base pavement continues to age.
- Decreased Traffic Volumes and Congestion: The existing traffic and anticipated future traffic are more than the roadway can effectively carry.
- Increased Safety: The roadway was designed more than 50 years ago and does not include modern safety features required to accommodate the current volume of vehicles and traveling speeds.
- Increased Mobility: The existing local roadway network impedes north/south mobility, both east and west of the interchange.
Are there any social, economic, or sustainable development aspects of the project?
The Capital Beltway is economically vital in the Harrisburg region and serves as a key hub in the northeast United States carrying a large volume of commercial traffic. The crash rates for this roadway are higher than the state average for a majority of mainline segments and interchange ramps.
This is the most-traveled road between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It is a one-day drive to 40% of the U.S. population, which represents 60% of the population's buying power. The existing roadway is deteriorating, has congested conditions from high traffic volumes, include operational safety concerns from substandard design characteristics, and the existing local roadway network impedes north/south mobility.
Can you describe some of the innovations used in this project?
Several innovations have been used on this project but the most forward-facing is the use of Bentley’s OpenRoads Designer software with MicroStation Connects edition to develop a design that can easily be developed and ported into PennDOT’s current Digital Delivery Initiative, which seeks to have all submissions plan-less by 2025. The project currently has 64 lane miles of alignments and corridors developed in the new software platform.
LUGENE KEYS - PLANNING & COMMUNICATIONS
What about the project highlights McCormick Taylor’s talents?
This is a signature project for McCormick Taylor. I-83 affords us the opportunity to employ multiple disciplines working together on what is likely one of the largest projects to be completed in PennDOT’s Engineering District 8. We are able to showcase our engineering design capabilities, environmental and archaeology expertise, planning, public outreach, communications, and creative services capabilities.
Have you come across any challenges or concerns while working on this project?
There are many challenges on a project of this type and size, but that’s what makes it so interesting. From a public outreach perspective, we have a very large and culturally diverse audience. The individuals that travel the project corridor are just as important as the physical communities – businesses and residential – that surround it.
What’s your favorite part of the project?
My favorite part of the project is seeing the physical construction of what we’ve designed, the fruits of all our labor!
What has the feedback been like from the community?
We’ve held a public meeting, a public hearing, and numerous meetings with local officials and interest groups. Generally, most people who drive the project corridor for any reason agrees there is a need to improve safety and traffic flow throughout the project area.