HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - PennDOT finally has the funding to make much-needed changes to a heavily traveled stretch of Interstate 83 in the Harrisburg area.
"It's going to make a big change and a big difference to the way the corridor looks today," PennDOT spokesman Greg Penny said.
It's a nearly $800 million project. Work on the first section is already underway. The widening of the interstate and construction of four new bridges just before Union Deposit Road is expected to be completed in 2021.
"In the meantime, what we're doing is planning and preparing for the next project," said Penny.
The next section is set to start in 2022 and will cost nearly $400 million.
"If you're traveling Interstate 83 and headed north to Interstate 81, Colonial Park area right now, you have a single lane that takes you north, and so all this traffic is coming into a single lane. That's going to change in the new project," said Penny.
Along with three lanes in each direction, there will be direct connections to I-283 and Route 322, as well as a new interchange to connect I-83 to Paxton Street near the Harrisburg Mall.
Traffic data collected for the project showed that half of the traffic using the I-83 corridor is traveling local to the Harrisburg area and not just passing through, which is why "collector-distributor" roads will also be incorporated.
"What that does is it separates the local traffic, makes it a little easier for them to get from interchange to interchange, and they're not having to merge with that through-traffic through the area, and that will help through-traffic move more smoothly through the area," said Penny.
Design studies are underway for widening I-83 to bridge over the Susquehanna River, including a redesign and rebuild of the Eisenhower Interchange.
An open house to share the proposed improvements will be held Thursday, Oct. 18, from 1-7 p.m., at Harrisburg Mall.