“Oh, don’t go that way.  You want to avoid the Beltway.” is a common chorus in many American cities.  Harrisburg is no exception and backups on its Beltway encroach onto Front Street and other arterial and connector roads on a daily basis.  In recent years, the issues have been exasperated as we continue to see populations trending from rural to urban locations while, at the same time, continue to experience aging and weakening transportation infrastructure.  But plans to bring relief to Harrisburg’s Beltway have been in the works for 15 years.  In 2003, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (“PennDOT”) prepared an I-83 Master Plan, the purpose of which was to identify, plan, and program future transportation improvement projects for the I-83 Capital Beltway.  The Master Plan proposed numerous improvements to the Beltway to address: (1) worsening road conditions; (2) high-traffic volumes and congestion; and, (3) safety.

The Master Plan basically proposed a complete redesign of the I-83 Capital Beltway and connecting roads.  This redesign was proposed to occur in four sections.  The first section, East Shore Section I, extends from the I-81 junction with I-83 to South of the Union Deposit interchange.  Section I is currently under construction.  East Shore Section II extends along I-83 from the Union Deposit interchange to 29th Street.  East Shore Section III extends from 29th Street to the Susquehanna River.  West Shore Section IV extends from the Susquehanna River to the West Shore where I-83 meets 581.

PennDOT is moving forward with the plans to complete Section II and Section III of the Project and has targeted 2022 as the date for the start of construction.  After extensive study and investigation, PennDOT has identified preferred alternative construction routes for both Section II and Section III.  These preferred alternatives can be found on PennDOT’s website HERE-Section II and HERE-Section III.

Because the Project affects a densely populated section of the Capital Region and involves a heavily-used commercial corridor, numerous property owners will be affected by the Project.  PennDOT is now in the process of surveying to confirm the acceptability of these preferred alternatives.  After receiving necessary environmental clearances, PennDOT will begin final development of the right of way plan and will contact property owners regarding acquisition of right-of-way necessary for the Project.

PennDOT is required to provide compensation to affected property owners.  If a voluntary acquisition of the property is not negotiated, PennDOT does have the power to acquire property rights by eminent domain.  In the event that eminent domain is used, the landowner is constitutionally guaranteed just compensation for his property rights.  To learn more about the compensation process, join us for a webinar on the basics of PennDOT’s property acquisition process this Wednesday, January 30 at noon.  You can register for the webinar HERE.