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witf introduces 'Smart Talk Friday' radio program

RST: Traffic congestion in Central PA

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jul 8, 2013 2:39 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Tuesday, July 9:

traffic congestion 300 x 170.jpg

Traffic congestion is just a way of life for most motorists.  On a normal day, the places where traffic slows down and backs up is expected as part of the daily commute and is built into the time planned for getting to work or the destination.  Just because it's part of a typical day doesn't make it any less frustrating or stressful however.

But think about this the next time you're stuck in traffic -- congestion in the Harrisburg-York-Lancaster region cost commuters $472 million in hours and fuel costs each year.  That's about 25 hours, 11 gallons of gas, or $460 annually.

Those figures are from the Washington D.C. based transportation think tank TRIP.

The group recently released a study that ranked the region's 14 most congested roads.  Ten of the roads are in York and Lancaster Counties and the other four are in the Harrisburg area.

Frank Moretti, TRIP's director of Research and Policy will be a guest on Tuesday's Radio Smart Talk to identify the hot spots and what can be done to relieve congestion.

What ideas do you suggest to relieve traffic congestion?

Top Congested Commuter Routes in Central PA:

1. Rohrerstown Road from Wabank Road to State Street in Lancaster. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 108 hours, 46 additional gallons of gas, and $1,995 annually or $38 weekly

2. US 222 from New Danville Pike to the PA 501/PA 272 intersection in Lancaster. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 75 hours, 32 additional gallons of gas, and $1,381 annually or $27 weekly.

3. I-81 from Walnut Bottom Road to the Dauphin-Lebanon County Line in Harrisburg. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 67 hours, 29 additional gallons of gas, and $1,227 annually or $24 weekly.

4. Marietta Pike (PA 23) from Orange Street to Stony Battery Road in Lancaster. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 50 hours, 21 additional gallons of gas, and $921 annually or $18 weekly.

5. Country Club and Rathon Road from Kings Mill Road to Midland Avenue in York. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 50 hours, 21 additional gallons of gas, and $921 annually or $18 weekly.

6. Loucks Road and Arsenal Road from the PA 74 entrance ramp to the North Hills Road in York. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 42 hours, 18 additional gallons of gas, and $767 annually or $15 weekly.

7. PA 283 from I-76 to I-83 in Harrisburg. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 25 hours, 11 additional gallons of gas, and $460 annually or $9 weekly.

8. US 22 from Herr Street to Mountain Road in Harrisburg. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 25 hours, 11 additional gallons of gas, and $460 annually or $9 weekly.

9. Lititz Pike (PA 501) from Oregon Pike to Newport Road in Lancaster. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 25 hours, 11 additional gallons of gas, and $460 annually or $9 weekly.

10. Mount Rose Avenue (PA 124) from Wheatlyn Drive to Cape Horn Road in York. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 25 hours, 11 additional gallons of gas, and $460 annually or $9 weekly.

11. Cape Horn Road and Edgewood Road from Overview Drive to Ruppert Road in York. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 25 hours, 11 additional gallons of gas, and $460 annually or $9 weekly.

12. I-83 from the Cumberland-York counties line to I-81 in Harrisburg. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 17 hours, 7 additional gallons of gas, and $307 annually or $6 weekly.

13. King and Orange Streets from Broad Street to West End Avenue in Lancaster. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 17 hours, 7 additional gallons of gas, and $307 annually or $6 weekly.

14. Church Road, George Street and Emig Road from Church Road to Busser Road in York. This congested corridor costs the average rush hour driver 17 hours, 7 additional gallons of gas, and $307 annually or $6 weekly.

**Based on a June 2013 TRIP report. TRIP is a national nonprofit transportation research
group based in Washington, DC.  TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers and businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction.

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Comments: 14

  • Steven First img 2013-07-09 08:25

    in areas of heavy congestion due to traffic lights, such as Roherstown Road why do they not fix the timing on the lights to correct these problems? it seems that they're all too happy to install new traffic lights where they don't need them but they have no interest in correcting the problems with the traffic lights that already exist. many of times I've been caught in traffic where there's always traffic in one direction but the light continues to change even if there's only one car in the opposite direction. in today's age why do we still have non intelligent stop lights?!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-09 08:36

    Thomas writes:

    Bottle necks and "rubber neckers" are obvious issues, however I also think that people who drive around with a complete lack of a sense of intention is a huge issue. An example is those who randomly slow down with no turn signals people who stop before getting on the high way. this is extremely prevalent in Camp Hill.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-09 08:37

    Thomas from Manheim Township in Lancaster County writes:

    My question is this....what ever happened to corridor one, two etc.? I still get updates from modern transit partnership but so far I have not seen any light rail.In 1999 they displayed a light rail car at the harrisburg station but that was it. Also what about the use of the norfolk southern line for commuter service from Harrisburg to Hershey, Lebanon and Reading?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-09 08:41

    Anonymous writes:

    I've read that there of tens if not hundreds of billions in federal dollars for road projects.But it's tied up in red tape. For instance in Lancaster on the Harrisburg pike was a study about readjusting the lights.That study was done in 2009. Not to mention how many years before that it was conceived. Now they're thinking of doing something.
    It's 2013 now and has anything been done,yet about this.

    • Scott LaMar img 2013-07-09 09:25

      Good question -- Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania is chairman of the House Transportation Committee. We'll try to get him on the show to answer questions about federal transportation money.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-09 08:42

    Blaine from York writes:

    Great Show!Maybe we could eliminate alot of our problems if our Leaders would lead (provide adequate funding for improvements and mass transit even if Heaven forbid Taxes and or fees would need to be raised).

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-09 08:43

    Herbert lives in Hummelstown and works in Harrisburg. He writes:


    In the capitol area we absolutely should have built the mass transit project entitled 'Corridor One.' Our leaders - particularly Repbulicans - blocked it. We should widen I-83 from the Susquehanna to the 83-322 split. Our leaders won't even put that on the docket.

    We should synchronize all traffic signals to expedite traffic flow.

    We should build out infrastructure for walking and bicycling.

    Here's the awful truth: it is cheaper to build than not build. The waste of resources and time in traffic jams costs more than the concrete and asphalt to build out the solutions.

    So why don't we do all of the above?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-09 08:51

    Deb writes:

    A situation I've encountered a couple times, not so much congestion, but convenience, is people using Amtrak headed for a destination in Hershey...specifically commuters who live in the Phila area or Lancaster to Hershey Med, or a Hershey property. Somekind of shuttle, or CAT Route perhaps? Traveling into Harrisburg then taking CAT out to Hershey not appealing.

    • Scott LaMar img 2013-07-09 09:24

      Deb: This is another challenge. Even if we have mass transit or expanded public transportation, there probably are areas that won't be served. With the number of people who travel to tourist destinations like Hershey, a shuttle from a train or bus station may be well worth it. I wonder though whether families would change their habits of driving to a place like Hershey or Amish Country and be willing to ride a shuttle trolley or bus?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-07-09 09:01

    Leigh writes:

    I think a big component of the amount of congestion that happens is due to driver frustration or distraction. Too many times I have encountered a driver who either "blocks the box" prohibiting flow of traffic for opposing traffic, or when a red light turns green a driver who has sat at the light (for a few cycles) decides to check e-mail or text. By the time they realize the light is green only one or two cars have had the opportunity to go through the light. Both scenarios contribute to a bottleneck in traffic. If drivers become more aware and perhaps more signs reminding drivers to not block the box are installed, this could also help flow.

  • Scott LaMar img 2013-07-09 09:20

    Thank you for all your suggestions and observations! Keep them coming. Congestion is just one symptom -- modernizing and improving Pennsylvania's infrastructure may be the most important issue facing the state in the long term.

  • Jes img 2013-07-09 19:04

    If maintaining roads and bridges is too expensive to do now, increased costs will make it more prohibitive in the future, and increases in traffic will make those repairs and expansions increase in frequency and of limited effectiveness due to space constraints. It sounds like funds need to be heavily diverted from roads and spent on mass transit where the burden and tendency to use those roads can be reduced, shifting the burden to a method of transportation that has a chance of being a long term solution.
    The only solution for route 30 in York is to re-convert it back to limited access and close the intersections that can't be converted to ramps and probably a service road along side it. There are no other East-West road ways in the area that can handle through traffic which could be used as a substitute route, meaning the problem will only get worse unless it is fixed the right way. Traffic could be diverted on to I-83 for the portion that runs parallel to rt 30 and possibly lessen the amount of rt 30 that would need to be restored.

  • ToddO img 2013-07-09 19:35

    I actually remarked to a friend recently that I thought the Rohrstown Road/Columbia Avenue intersection was the worst in Lancaster county. (Several times a year, it actually attracts canners collecting for charities!) He countered by pointing a finger at the entire system of Rohrstown Rd/Good Dr/Centerville Rd/Columbia Ave.

    My question for the live broadcast would have been about timed lights. It's one thing to have uncoordinated traffic lights, but quite another when those lights lack the technology to be coordinated at all. (I have noticed this mostly downtown and in the Ephrata area.) Do municipalities ever pass laws that mandate all new traffic lights (and vastly upgraded intersections) use some form of smart technology? How common are mass upgrades of lights? In the 21st century, situations like this are intolerable.

  • Wayne L. img 2013-07-09 19:49

    Our political leaders must provide a comprehensive transportation policy. So far, from what i can see, it's still a scattershot approach with the vast majority of emphasis on highways. There should be better local bus services in most communities, with park and ride provisions for motor vehicles and bicycles. Bus services should link to mass transit rail at stations, radiating outward in a wheel and spoke fashion. Probably the only thing that will make this happen is a substantial increase in gasoline prices, something the politicians fear and will never enact.

    Until recently, I lived in the Sunbury area, and opposition to the plan to toll Interstate 80 was fierce. Most folks believe that once a highway is built, it should not be their responsibility to pay for its maintenance. They aren't sure who should pay for maintenance; they just believe it shouldn't be them. It's not far from the truth that most people will only give up their cars when you pry their fingers off the steering wheel.

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