I-81 exit 12 project planning underway, public invited to weigh in

HARRISBURG – Nearly two years ago, PennDOT unveiled plans for the construction of a new interchange on Interstate 81 between Wayne Avenue and Marion at Guilford Springs Road in the center of the area’s zoned industrial district near the Target distribution center and now, things are moving along on the project.

PennDOT’s plan for Exit 12 centers on a redesign of Guilford Springs Road, including an eight-foot shoulder, with a new bridge over the interstate to accommodate future growth up to six lanes; a modified intersection at Archer Drive and Guilford Springs Road; and an additional turn lane from Guilford Springs to Route 11; and a planned closure of Lighthouse Road at the railroad crossing.

In addition, Guilford Township officials also want to extend Archer Drive from Guilford Springs Road, where the proposed Exit 12 interchange will be located, to Route 914 at Exit 10, to provide greater access to I-81, as well as alleviating some commercial traffic from Route 11.

The development is expected to create the opportunity for jobs within the industrial zone.

Last year, township officials received approval of a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority for the Archer Drive extension, which is estimated to cost $1.6 million.

“We currently are in the preliminary design/environmental studies phase and expect to have environmental clearance by April 2021,” said Dave Thompson, district press officer for PennDOT. “After receiving environmental clearance, we will move into final design and acquiring any necessary rights-of-way.”

Thomas said bidding of the project is expected in late 2023.

Members of the public who want to weigh in on the project can do so through Wednesday, Sept. 30, via an online meeting between regional transportation leaders, PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration.

The online public meeting (www.i81southcentralpa.com) will allow people to review the details through video and interactive mapping and provide feedback.

All feedback on the needs and criteria is due by Sept. 30 and will be used prioritize conceptual project alternatives before a future public review.

One additional public meeting and feedback opportunity will be conducted before the strategy is finalized.

The planning process is expected to be completed in spring 2021.

The I-81 Improvement Strategy is a collaborative effort among the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and the Franklin County and Lebanon County Metropolitan Planning Organizations. TCRPC, which includes Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties, is spearheading the effort in coordination with PennDOT and the FHA.