I-83 in 2019: Construction, crashes, flooding and even a scuffle

Teresa Boeckel
York Daily Record

Interstate 83 has been referred to as "the war zone."

It's a heavily traveled artery, which, at times, has been shut down for hours by major crashes. Sometimes it seems more dangerous responding to emergencies on the highway than fighting a fire, Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Chief Tony Myers has said.

Drivers have traveled through a lot of construction zones this year, too — some new, and some that seem like they've lasted forever. Work began to build a new diverging diamond interchange in Shrewsbury — one of the first for central Pennsylvania. And, crews repaired and paved a 7-mile section on the south side of York, for example.

Road construction was a big part of life on I-83 in 2019. This is looking east from above Rt. 851 across the Shrewsbury exit in early December. Crews are progressing with the construction of a new diverging diamond interchange at Exit 4. It will be one of the first of its kind in central Pennsylvania.

And for those who weren't traveling the speed limit in a work zone, the new speed cameras in Pennsylvania might have snapped a photo of their vehicle. Just don't expect a ticket in the mail. For now, the equipment is in a testing period.

Here's a look back at some of the things that happened on I-83 in 2019.

One person was taken to the hospital after a tractor-trailer crashed on I-83 South near Route 30 on Oct. 16, 2019.

Fatal crashes, snarled traffic

Numerous crashes snarled traffic for hours on the highway this year. Some involved tractor-trailers that jackknifed or overturned, blocking the highway until they could be removed.

A few were deadly.

Namitha Alicea, 41, of Colonial Beach, Va., died in a two-vehicle crash on I-83 in southern York County over Memorial Day weekend. She and the driver, Alesander Alicea, had just bought a dog in Lancaster County and were heading home at the time of the crash on May 24. The dog also perished.

Police said the crash happened when the driver of a Toyota RAV4 lost control of his vehicle and crashed into Alicea's GMC Sierra. Alesander Alicea was unable to control the truck. It hit a westbound embankment and overturned. Namitha Alicea and the dog were ejected from the vehicle.

While police were reconstructing the wreck that day, a woman under the influence of alcohol drove through the scene, nearly striking several people. That contributed to the highway's 10-hour shutdown, police said at the time.

Earlier in the year, Brandon James McCracken, 33, of Springettsbury Township, died on March 8 when he was struck by a vehicle in the area of the Exit 19 interchange. State police said the driver of the vehicle was not charged. The investigation revealed the pedestrian was in the travel lane at the time of the crash.

Firefighter, trooper scuffle on the highway

A former fire lieutenant with the York Township Goodwill Fire Company faces charges stemming from a scuffle with a state police trooper at the scene of a crash on I-83.

Michael Thomas Naylor, 49, of Glen Rock, was charged with obstructing emergency services and disorderly conduct in connection with the Sept. 29 incident.

State police found that the driver of the vehicle was suffering from a drug overdose and broke a passenger side window to reach him. Naylor, who was upset that troopers broke a window during the rescue, pushed one of them while he was escorting Naylor from the scene, according to court documents.

Naylor was relieved of his duties with the fire department.

Flooding was reported on I-83 in southern York County on the Fourth of July.

Flooding blamed on the drains

Sometimes drivers could have used a boat instead of a car to navigate the interstate.

The highway flooded near Lake Redman this summer when heavy rains fell during a short period.

Crews had been working on a repair and resurfacing project in that area, and with the layers of asphalt removed, the drains were about 4.5 inches higher than the roadway, a PennDOT official said at the time.

But some on social media noted that it wasn't a new problem.

This is looking east in early December across the width of the Mt. Rose Avenue bridge, which has been doubled for the I-83/Mt. Rose project.

Mount Rose Avenue interchange

And then there's the Mount Rose Avenue interchange that makes drivers sigh, roll their eyes or even swear.

Yes, it's been four long years, and the project is still going on. It is more than a year behind schedule.

And when is it expected to finish?

"Next construction season," PennDOT says, meaning sometime in 2020.

The contractor, Cherry Hill Construction, has said it's expected to be done in the third quarter of 2020.

Crews have been reconstructing the southbound lanes of the highway this year. An I-83 bridge over Mill Creek and some stream mitigation work has been completed, PennDOT says.

The first phase of Mount Rose Avenue and the bridge over I-83 also are near completion. 

Work that still needs to be done includes:

  • Construction of the middle section of I-83
  • Reconstruction of Mount Rose Avenue eastbound
  • Paving the new ramps
  • Reconstruction of the ramps on the north side of the interchange.
  • Final paving 

The project was originally bid at $58.3 million, but the company has filed a claim seeking an additional $24 million for the project.

Highway repairs ahead of widening

With I-83 in bad shape, crews started a repair and resurfacing project between the Mount Rose and North George streets interchanges in 2019.

This is being done ahead of plans to widen the highway from four to six lanes between the North George and Market streets interchanges.

Kinsley Construction is doing that work for $5.4 million.

Crews have completed the bridge deck repairs. Paving is scheduled for next year, according to PennDOT.

Work to widen North Hills Road started after Labor Day this year. It will include adding a second northbound lane between Industrial Highway and Route 30. This photo was taken in the spring before the project started.

North Hills Road improvements start

For those who like to take a shortcut between I-83 and Route 30, crews started work this fall to widen North Hills Road to two lanes in each direction.

An extra lane northbound was added a few years ago, but it ends at Industrial Highway. Only the center lane continues to Route 30, causing backups.

But by the end of next year, drivers should see the two lanes in both directions. It will include double right-turn lanes northbound onto Route 30 East, according to a news release.

Kinsley Construction is doing the work for $3.1 million.

This is an important project for PennDOT to accomplish before construction begins to widen I-83 from four to six lanes between the Market and North George streets interchanges. It gives highway drivers an alternative during construction.

More:I-83/North Hills Road area is a mess, but will road widening take people's property?

More:It's official, the I-83/Mt. Rose project is a year overdue. What work still remains?

More:New I-83 interchange coming for Shrewsbury, plus other projects in 2019

Highway repairs just south of York

Meanwhile, another project to repair and resurface the highway in the south York area is almost done.

Crews removed the asphalt, repaired the base, patched bridge decks and paved the highway between the Loganville and Mount Rose Avenue interchanges.

J.D. Eckman Inc. of Chester County did the work for $13.6 million.

It is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

The ramp contours are taking shape for the new interchange at Shrewsbury on December 3, 2019.  Crews are progressing with the construction of a new diverging diamond interchange at Exit 4. It will be one of the first of its kind in central Pennsylvania.

Shrewsbury diverging diamond

Closer to the state line, a new interchange is starting to take shape.

Crews with Kinsley Construction began work this year on building a new diverging diamond at Shrewsbury.  It's a nearly $30 million project.

The diverging diamond will be one of the first of its kind for central Pennsylvania. It's expected to handle more traffic, improve safety and last a decade longer than a tight diamond, which is similar to the old configuration at the interchange.

This year, the work has involved utility relocation, building a cement structure that will carry Deer Creek underneath the interchange and construction of a new I-83 bridge over Route 851, according to PennDOT.

Crews also have started building one of the new ramps, according to a post on the Shrewsbury borough Facebook page.

The new interchange is expected to be completed by the summer of 2021.

It was still a rough ride in mid-October through the intersection by York Hospital at South George Street and Rathton Road in Spring Garden Township. The contractor, J.D. Eckman Inc. of Chester County, finished the project in November, according to PennDOT.

Improvements by York Hospital finished

Well, here's a sigh of relief.

The improvements to the busy intersection by York Hospital near the I-83 business loop were completed in November, according to PennDOT.

The $2.9 million project was expected to be finished in September, but utility relocation last winter into the spring took longer than anticipated.

The project involved multiple improvements:

  • Widening Country Club Road for an additional westbound lane.
  • Creating dual left-turn lanes from South George Street onto Country Club Road to allow more cars to get through the traffic light.
  • Creating two straight-through lanes on Rathton Road to Country Club Road.
  • Upgrading the traffic signal, which will use radar and be re-timed.
  • Repairing the roadway base and paving with a 4-inch layer of Superpave.

J.D. Eckman Inc. was the contractor.