York County’s I-83 widening project makes national list of highway boondoggles

Resources would be better spent on improvements to reduce crashes

PennPIRG Education Fund

PHILADELPHIA — Pennsylvania is planning to spend $300 million to widen I-83 in York County from four to eight lanes. But according to a new report from PennPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group, the state could save money and better serve the needs of the region by forgoing road expansion and focusing instead on better management and operations.

“To improve Pennsylvania’s transportation system, we have to reduce our reliance on cars and highways,” said Matt Casale, PennPIRG Education Fund’s Transportation Campaign director. “This project does the opposite, doubling down on a car-centric system that will damage the community and lead to more traffic, crashes and pollution.”

One of the main stated goals of the project is to “improve future traffic flow.” But project documents only mention bad congestion in the corridor as it relates to traffic accidents, which “cause long-lasting gridlock given the high volume of traffic.” According to the Highway Boondoggles 5 report, improving operations — including incident management — would be a more effective and cheaper strategy than expanding capacity.

“Sometimes it’s the infrastructure we don’t build that makes all the difference,” said Gideon Weissman of Frontier Group, report co-author. “Cities from Dallas to Tampa to Milwaukee have discovered that ditching boondoggle highway projects has opened up new opportunities to build stronger, cleaner and more fiscally sustainable communities.”

The report recommends that Pennsylvania cancel the I-83 widening project and other proposed highway expansion projects, and instead invest in more effective solutions, such as speed management and incident detection cameras. These solutions will free up resources for more pressing needs throughout the state, including road repair and transit expansion.  


“Pennsylvania, like the rest of America, still has a misplaced appetite for costly and disruptive highway expansion projects. But if we’re smarter about how we spend our transportation dollars, Pennsylvania can achieve a more sustainable, affordable and better-functioning transportation system,” said Casale. “That means avoiding spending hundreds of millions of dollars on harmful, wasteful projects such as the I-83 widening.”