I-83/Mount Rose project has been 'a pain in the backside' for businesses
Calvin Ashman's tire business was mortgage-free six years ago before work started on the Interstate 83 Mount Rose Avenue makeover.
Now the company is a million dollars in debt, he said, and the road project still isn't done after nearly five years.
Nello Tire, in the 1200 block of Haines Road, lost 3½ acres of its property — including a warehouse and truck tire shop — to the interchange improvement project, said Ashman, vice president and manager.
The auto and truck service center had to be reconstructed, and business took a nose dive when the roadwork reduced traffic to a single lane in front of the store.
Business picked back up when Haines Road became passable in both directions, he said, but it's not where it was or where the business was heading in 2015.
"The whole project's been a pain in the backside ever since it started — for us, anyway," Ashman said.
The project, which is intended to alleviate congestion and improve safety, started in 2015 and was expected to be finished in three years. But delays resulted in the work dragging on, and the contractor, Cherry Hill Construction of Jessup, Md., and the state Department of Transportation are heading to court over who is to blame for it.
Meanwhile, new ramps remain unfinished. Sidewalks are closed. And a detour loop still takes drivers around the site to reach the I-83 South ramp.
"Now you don't see hardly anything going on," Ashman said of the construction site. "...It's hard to do a major project with a handful of people."
'Everybody's ready for it to be done'
While some businesses had to be closed and demolished for the project, others such as Five Guys and Arooga's Grille House & Sports Bar, still stand along Haines Road, which was widened to accommodate traffic coming off the new nearby northbound exit ramp.
When the project first started, Arooga's saw a drop in business, manager Heidi Burkholder said. It has picked back up some, thanks in part to crews adding a new entrance off of Bridlewood Way to access the restaurant's parking lot.
The main entrance along Haines Road became a right-in and right-out only because of the improvements.
Customers often ask employees if they have any information about when the project will be done, Burkholder said. She wishes she did.
Those hankering for a burger still frequent the Five Guys next door. It's the only one in York and offers customers a good view of the interchange.
"Everybody's ready for it to be done," manager Andrew Wood said of the construction. "It's been too long."
Krouse Travel Inc., located in the shopping center on the hill overlooking I-83, moved from Red Lion to its current location nearly 1½ years ago.
"In our minds, what we thought about was when it's done, it'll be so convenient to our clients, which it is," travel consultant Krista L. Getz said.
Businesses have not received updates from PennDOT on the status of the project. Some wondered if the configuration along Haines Road will be the same when it's all done. Getz said she wishes someone would get in touch so that concerns could be aired.
One of the problems employees see is how traffic stacks up on Bridlewood Way during rush hour. Drivers on Haines Road block the intersection, preventing drivers on Bridlewood from turning in either direction.
More roadwork coming
On the heels of the Mount Rose makeover is the I-83 widening project from the Market Street to North George Street interchanges.
"I will be well into my 50s by the time this is all said and done," 39-year-old Josh Doman said. He's the store manager of the Sherwin-Williams Paint Store in the Haines Acres Shopping Center.
The Mount Rose project hasn't affected the paint store business, he said, but customers do ask about it because of the proximity of the store to the interchange.
"I don't usually know much, but they ask fairly frequently," he said.
Doman said he avoids traveling through the interchange as much as possible. He used to take the detour loop to get on the I-83 South on-ramp. But drivers who want to turn left at the light become impatient with those coming down Green Hill Road.
He now travels through Spring Garden Township, going around Queensgate to reach Queen Street.
"It's quicker. It's less lights," he said. "It's never backed up that way, really. ...I'll be less likely to get in an accident on the way home, quite frankly, so that's why I do it."
Improvement takes away from business
By Nello Tire, a sign warns that the sidewalk is closed. A section of it remains unfinished. It's been like that for nearly two years, Ashman said.
Nello's work includes tractor-trailer flat repairs and truck tires. Because of the reduced footprint of the business, it's harder to service tractor-trailers.
"We used to have three or four trucks in here all the time," he said. "Now we're lucky to get one in."
It has fewer truck bays than in the past, and the business lost parking spaces, making it tight when the shop is busy.
Ashman said entire highways have been put in faster than the Mt. Rose project.
But, he sees a silver lining: "I think once it's done, it will be nice," he said.