Hypothetical I-83 exit 26 in York takes a baby step closer to reality

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YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — First, the bad, or good news, depending on what you think of the idea: The solution (or problem) won’t be ready until the mid-2030s.

But for businesses that have long pined for it, an Interstate 83 exit — giving them direct access to a highway — is so tantalizingly close but so difficult to actually access and is nudging closer to eventual reality.

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It would be Exit 26 — Canal Road, otherwise known as Route 921 — halfway between current exit 24 for Church Road/Route 238 and Susquehanna Trail/Route 297. As the crow flies, or as the highway travels, the existing exits aren’t far (just a couple of miles) from a business like the J.A. Cunningham Welding Supply Company. But a sign down the road from Cunningham directing drivers to make a right turn to reach I-83 is only true in the technical sense: they’ll get there, but not before at least 10 minutes on a good day, said Philiip Nohe, the company’s office manager. (abc27 News drove the route and confirmed it took about that long in light traffic.)

So the idea of nearly seamless access for an area that includes facilities for everything from longtime local companies like Cunningham to conglomerates like UPS and Johnson Controls?

“Access is huge, and I think certainly will open up great opportunity for the area,” Nohe said.

Aside from required environmental reviews, two major challenges stand in the way: 1) convincing highway planners that this exit is a top priority above others competing for scarce resources and 2) finding the money for it.

And although business people in the area who spoke Tuesday, Sept. 21, with abc27 news universally supported the idea, some neighbors are opposed.

“Some people have expressed, ‘I moved here for this open space. I moved here for this agricultural setting,'” Michelle Brummer, a community planner who works for the firm Gannet Fleming, said.

An example of where that sentiment exists?

“The area between Susquehanna trail and I-83 [just west of the highway] is kind of a wedge area that right now with a relatively rural designation,” Brummer said. But “it’s adjacent to other industrial [land]. Somebody could come in and say, ‘Hey, let’s make this industrial; would you rezone it industrial?'”

Part of her job is helping nearby municipalities make land-use changes to accommodate the growth that accompanies a new interchange but without getting too far ahead of that growth. Imagine, for example, agricultural land being rezoned for industrial use years ahead of the interchange.

Dave Thompson, a PennDOT spokesman, says the agency has heard pleas similar to those expressed by the folks at J.A. Cunningham.

“Companies are looking for places with good interstate connections so they can move their goods from Point A to Point B.”

Full project details are available here. Anyone who with questions, or wants to express support or opposition, can attend public planning commission meetings next week in the four municipalities that surround the proposed project:

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  • Conewago Township, 490 Copenhaffer Road, York, PA 17404
    Monday, September 27, 2021, at 7 p.m.
  • East Manchester Township, 5080 N Sherman St Ext., Mt. Wolf, PA 17347    
    Tuesday, September 28, 2021, at 7 p.m.
  • Manchester Township, 3200 Farmtrail Road, York, PA 17406    
    Wednesday, September 29, 2021, at 7 p.m.
  • Manchester Borough, 225 S. Main Street, Manchester, PA 17345
    Thursday, September 30, 2021, at 7 p.m.

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