Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg Mayor: PennDOT may be receptive to changes for proposed I-83 redesign

Aerial view of I-83 in Harrisburg from 19th Street to the Susquehanna River. A PennDOT proposal would double the width of this segment of the highway.

The PA Department of Transportation might consider making changes to its design for the widening of I-83 that would reduce the project’s impact on the community, Harrisburg’s mayor said on Tuesday night.

At a City Council legislative session, Mayor Eric Papenfuse said that PennDOT officials seemed receptive to the preliminary findings of the city’s transportation consultants, Kittelson & Associates, during a Sept. 16 meeting.

“It was a robust discussion of Kittelson’s findings,” Papenfuse told council members.

In June, the city hired the company for $72,500 to conduct a traffic and community impact study of the commonwealth’s proposal to double the number of lanes running through the city.

The study analyzes PennDOT’s widening plan, which envisions as many as 12 lanes and new interchanges, and is determining whether alternatives exist to reduce the project’s footprint and the impact on the community.

Kittelson is expected to release its final report in December, but shared its preliminary findings during the September meeting with PennDOT, Papenfuse said.

Kittelson believes that the footprint of the project can be reduced to lessen the impact on numerous homes and businesses in south Harrisburg threatened by the expansion, and PennDOT seemed receptive to the firm’s ideas, the mayor said.

Following Tuesday night’s council meeting, city Engineer Wayne Martin explained that Kittelson is recommending reducing the size of the project from 12 to 10 lanes by eliminating two collector/distributor lanes, which are lanes that parallel and connect to the main travel lanes.

Other recommendations include redesigning the proposed 19th Street and Paxton Streets ramps to further reduce the impact on the neighborhood.

“PennDOT is committed to doing what it can to minimize the footprint,” Papenfuse said. “It seems encouraging at this point. It’s been a good dialogue and a good discussion.”

In other meeting news, City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to pay former Jump Street Executive Director Melissa Snyder $10,000 to serve as a consultant for one year as the city takes on organizing the annual Artsfest celebration. Council also passed a resolution applying for a grant for an extension of the “Urban Meadow” in Midtown.

Also at the meeting, Papenfuse introduced Amma Johnson as the new director of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development and Jamal Jones as the new director of business development and LERTA administrator.

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