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. Below is a Q&A with Diane Crispino, the project's environmental manager.
What about the project highlights McCormick Taylor’s talents?
McCormick Taylor has been involved in the I-83 Capital Beltway improvements since assisting PennDOT District 8-0 with the development of the 2003 I-83 Master Plan, a transportation planning study of the Interstate 83 corridor in the Harrisburg Area. The study identified four projects, and McCormick Taylor was subsequently selected to complete the design and environmental studies for two of these four projects (East Shore Section 1, which is currently under construction, and East Shore Section 2). These complex projects have showcased McCormick Taylor’s range of services and how every discipline works together to succeed, even when challenges arise.
Have you come across any challenges or concerns while working on this project?
There are always challenges that come with such a large project, but I would say for this project it has been meeting and keeping on top of the project schedule, which at times seems almost impossible to meet. There were instances when we were challenged to meet a date for submission or approval, but with excellent communication by the Project Manager, Becky Mease, along with the entire project team, we have met all dates that were expected for this project and will continue to do so as the project and its multiple construction contracts advance through final design. With the fifth and final contract not anticipated to go to construction until 2030, one can probably imagine the amount of effort that is needed to successfully complete all tasks required to meet the schedule.
Does the project have any unique aspects?
Due to the urban nature of the project location, there are not a significant amount of environmental resources that other large projects would need to evaluate and include in design considerations. However, there is one area within the project boundary, City Park Drive/Spring Creek area, that contains a variety of environmental resources that need to be considered with the design of the project, including:
- Capital Area Greenbelt (Section 4(f) resource)
- Harrisburg City Parks Plan 7 Parkway Plan (Historic/Section 4(f) resource)
- Forster-Rutherford House (Spring House) (Historic/Section 4(f) resource)
- Paxtang Park (Section 4(f) resource)
- The Rutherford House, Senior Center (Community Facility)
- Spring Creek (supports natural reproduction of wild trout) and its tributaries, floodplains, and wetlands (Exceptional Value)
I-83 crosses over City Park Drive in this location and, due to these resources all being found in one spot, there has been a great deal of coordination with the design team as well as stakeholders so that impacts can be avoided or minimized when possible. Project Manager, Becky Mease, has compared the design in this location to “threading a needle.” Although challenging, it is definitely a unique situation that takes a great deal of time and thought to result in the best outcome for the project and all the stakeholders.
Can you touch on some of the key technical aspects of the project?
Public involvement for this project beginning at the Master Plan stage may be the biggest aspect from the environmental side that I see as key. As it is such a focal project being showcased in the state capital, there are many people interested in the progress of the project and the ultimate outcome. There has been interest from local communities as well as through travelers or commuters and businesses. Stakeholders see this as an opportunity for growth, which comes with improved infrastructure. It has been interesting and fun watching the technology improve over the years, which has definitely assisted with the success of public outreach efforts.
What’s your favorite part of the project?
This project is only a few miles from the McCormick Taylor Harrisburg office. It is great to be involved in a project that you are so close to. You are able to see and understand the needs for the project, relate when being involved with the public outreach, and ultimately be able to reap the benefits that come with the construction of the project. It is rewarding to be a part of a team that can bring improvements to a community where you live and work.