Skip to comments.Cumberland County commissioners push for widening of I-81 near Carlisle to three lanes
Posted on 05/09/2018 7:16:34 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
After a series of crashes on Interstate 81 in the Carlisle area in April, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Thursday approved a resolution that asks PennDOT to prioritize and expedite plans to widen the highway to three lanes in each direction across the county.
Commissioners said the current design of the ramps and two-lanes of traffic no longer supports the number of vehicles traveling the interstate.
Interstate 81, along with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, brings tremendous economic opportunity. But the interstate also poses safety concerns as traffic volume increases and congestion worsens, the board said in a joint statement. In just the past few weeks, weve seen crash after crash, many in the same area.
We understand widening I-81 has a tremendous cost, but its time for our state and federal transportation planners and elected representatives to finally address the dire need for capacity expansion, the board said. In the meantime, we urge PennDOT to study what short-term actions could be taken now to help improve safety and reduce congestion.
The county said the interstate sees 70,000 or more vehicles a day, with up to a third being tractor-trailers. Commissioners noted that many of the interchanges were designed in the 1960s and no longer meet current design standards, nor are they able to support current traffic levels.
In the resolution, the county commissioners said they would support all efforts from PennDOT to secure funding to engineer, design and widen I-81 to three lanes in both directions throughout Cumberland County. They request that PennDOT prioritize and expedite the engineering and design work for widening the interstate in Cumberland County from the Middlesex exit to the Allen Road exit, due to the increasing safety problems.
Until funds can be generated to widen the interstate, the commissioners said they are asking PennDOT to complete a safety study and make recommendations on interim safety improvements to decrease crashes and reduce congestion.
In the 2005 I-81 Widening Study, PennDOT recognized the safety and congestion problems created by the current design and suggested the addition of a third lane in both directions from Exit 29 (Shippensburg) to the Susquehanna River, according to the county.
PennDOT is finishing the final paving of the widened part of the interstate between the Route 114 exit (Mechanicsburg) and Route 581 interchange.
Greg Penny, spokesman for PennDOT District 8, said there are no projects scheduled for widening Interstate 81 in south central Pennsylvania, including Cumberland County.
He said a study conducted from 2002 to 2004 looked at reducing traffic congestion and improving safety by widening 77 miles of I-81 corridor from the Maryland state line to the six-lane section that began at Exit 59 (Route 581) ) and on the east side of the Susquehanna River from I-83 in Dauphin County to I-78 in Dauphin County. That project was estimated to cost about $1.5 billion and involved widening by building the third lane in the median area. "By using the median, we would not need to acquire additional land along the corridor," Penny said.
However, the estimate did not include updating and redesigning the interchanges to current standards.
Similar to the I-83 Master Corridor Study, the corridor could be divided into smaller, more manageable and less costly projects that could be prioritized by the metropolitan planning organizations. No project has been prioritized and proposed for further study, design and construction, most likely due to the challenges of funding it, he said.
Part of the safety issues is that theoretically the speed limit drops to 55 mph around Carlisle.
Theoretically because ever when Ed Rendell entered the Governor’s Mansion 15 years ago the State Police pretty much disappeared from the midstate Interstate highways.
Why? Because they were (and still are) babysitting his precious casinos and because they were (and still are) reallocated to take over a lot of traffic enforcement in Philly.
they need to fix those potholes first