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Interstate 81 Exits 48 & 49 Transportation Study


Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation (CAEDC) recently completed a year-long study that advances improvement options for the Interstate 81 interchanges at York and Trindle Road in Carlisle.

Interstate 81 Exits 48 & 49 Transportation Study Background:

Maintaining a strong highway network is crucial to sustaining our region’s economy in what is becoming an increasingly competitive environment. In order for our region’s businesses to grow and succeed, we must have a strong, sustainable transportation system in place. Commercial, industrial, and residential traffic currently encounter barriers in traffic operations, including congestion, safety concerns, and accessibility to our area’s primary roadway artery, Interstate 81.

This study by CAEDC is a reboot of a 2005 study that looked at both the transportation and land use implications of planning for our area. This study sought to address the changes that have occurred since that earlier study, including the development of Carlisle Crossings shopping complex, and the construction of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC), to name two notable examples. Changes in the roadway network have included the construction of Westminster Drive, and the relocation of Forge Road.

Changes on the horizon will further strain our highway infrastructure. Planned expansion at USAHEC, coupled with the Rose and Heritage development are welcome developments, but will introduce additional demands for travel, and burdens on our highway network.

CAEDC’s study coincided with two other important planning efforts, namely the update of the region’s long range transportation plan by the Harrisburg Area Transportation Study (HATS), and a PennDOT study that examined the feasibility of widening Interstate 81.

CAEDC will continue to work with our partners at HATS, PennDOT, and study area municipalities in advancing the recommendations and alternatives that were identified in the study through the region’s long-range plan, as well as PennDOT’s 2021 Twelve Year Program (TYP).

The study was guided by an 11-member study steering committee that included representation from the study area municipalities, the Cumberland County Planning Commission, and USAHEC.

Study Findings:

CAEDC’s most recent study identifies a range of improvement alternatives for the two half interchanges that are seen by many to be confusing to use, and a barrier to the area’s economic development potential.

The study presents options that include expanding Interstate 81’s interchange with PA Route 641 (Trindle Road) into a full interchange, with access to the interstate from both directions.

CAEDC recently presented the draft study recommendations at a public meeting. Options for improving the interchange at Exit 49 Trindle Road generated positive feedback.

The proposal to make the interchange at Trindle Road into a full diamond interchange received favorable reviews, given its potential to greatly improve traffic operations and safety and improve access to USAHEC.

An additional study proposal includes the construction of a connector road parallel to Fairfield Street between York and Trindle Road, although this option did not receive the same level of public acceptance. This option was viewed by some as a temporary fix and not something that would ultimately address the safety and mobility concerns that exist at the two interchanges.

CAEDC will be working with its partners at the county, regional, and Federal level to advance the concepts to more advanced stages of planning study.

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