The Harrisburg Expressway is the part of the Interstate Highway System that connects Baltimore, Maryland with Harrisburg, the state capitol of Pennsylvania. Its southern terminus is Exit 25 of the Baltimore Beltway, otherwise known as I-695, and its northern terminus is just north of Harrisburg where it joins I-81 at exit 70. About 50 miles of the Harrisburg Expressway are in Pennsylvania, and another 22 miles or so are in Maryland. Another section of I-83 continues into Baltimore City. I-83 merges with I-695 for a mile or so, then continues south into the city. This southern leg of I-83 is known as the Jones Falls Expressway, or JFX. North of York, I-83 is known as the Susquehanna Expressway.

Landmarks along Interstate 83 - Maryland

Exit 25 at I-695: Southern Terminus From the inner loop of the Baltimore Beltway the northbound lanes of the Harrisburg Expressway start with a tight jughandle that crosses under the beltway. The Jersey barrier shows hundreds of scars from cars and trucks that didn't make the curve. Close to the underpass the concrete wall is blackened and spalled, where a gasoline tanker tried to take the curve a little too fast.

Exit 16 to 17 On your right northbound is Timmonium, Home of the Maryland State Fair. Mostly nondescript industrial and commercial buildings line this stretch.

Exit 17 to 18 On your right is Texas, home of the Redland Genstar quarry, where marble for the Washington Monument was quarried prior to the Civil War. If you look hard you may get a glimpse inside this huge quarry, but be careful, this is a busy stretch of road.

Exit 20 Hunt Valley Hunt Valley is a mostly industrial area, and is home to many of Baltimore's major employers including MBNA, Verizon, McCormick and Procter and Gamble. Past Exit 20 the road narrows from 6 to 4 lanes, and winds its way through attractive country to Maryland Line where it crosses into Pennsylvania.

Mile 30 the road crosses a deep gorge carved by the Gunpowder River.

Mile 37, I-83 crosses the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania.

Landmarks along Interstate 83 - Pennsylvania

Mile 0: Mason-Dixon Line:

North of the Mason-Dixon Line, I-83 undergoes a major change in character, mostly for the worse. In the 1950's, Pennsylvania enthusiasticly built hundreds of miles of Interstate Highways to bare minimum standards. I-83 is typical of much of the Interstate Highway System in Pennsylvania. Both the northbound and southbound lanes follow a single track, and the north and southbound lanes are separated by a variation of the standard guardrail. Between the Mason-Dixon Line and York the median barrier consists of sections of galvanized steel boxes filled with gravel. This is the only section of Interstate Highway I have seen this type of barrier, probably because it is so ugly. The only thing I can figure is that this was an attempt to build a cost-effective barrier while giving at least the appearance of being able to prevent an out of control tractor trailer from crashing across the barrier, as would frequently happen to the old guardrails. Acceleration lanes are practically nonexistent on older Interstates in Pennsylvania, so it is wise to move to the left when approaching an interchange, and shoulders are narrow and poorly maintained. In defense of Penndot, they have to stretch a limited road budget across a large rural state and deal with the challenges of horrible winter weather, difficult terrain across much of the state, and the necessity of dealing with literally hundreds of small and often overlapping local government entities.

Mile 10: On the left of the northbound side is Lake Redman part of the water supply for nearby York. This nice little artificial lake is tucked into a quiet corner of York. In the summer it is busy with canoes, sailboats, and rowboats, but by the looks of things, outboard motors are not allowed.

Mile 13:This is the Leader Heights exit. As of 2005, this whole area from Lake Redman to Exit 16 is under some pretty heavy-duty reconstruction. At Exit 13, Business 83 goes off at a tangent into the city of York while the interstate curves sharply to the right. This is a dangerous section of road, so be careful.

Mile 21: Exit 21 is known as Arsenal Road, or US Route 30 It is one of the main east-west drags through York, and runs mostly through industrial and commercial areas. If your favorite mode of transport is an American made twin cylinder motorcycle, Exit 21 will lead you to the doorstep of the Harley-Davidson factory. H-D sponsors daily tours of its factory, and has some other goodies for visiting bikers as well.

Miles 21 to 36: Just north of Exit 21, I-83 turns north toward Harrisburg. This stretch of I-83 is dominated by trucking terminals and various and sundry industry along its service roads. The road is long, narrow and straight, with the left lane marker practically against the median barrier. This, combined with heavy truck traffic makes this stretch of 83 a section of road negotiated as quickly as safely possible. Unless there is an accident or construction causing delays, this section of road is a constant stream of truck traffic which moves at about 80 miles per hour, speed limits notwithstanding. Drive slower at your own peril! North of York, I-83 is also known as the Susquehanna Expressway. At Mile 27 near Strinestown, a huge 6 story high, 2 block long industrial type building has been recently erected. I am not sure what it is but it sure is big. Near Reesers Summit, the road cuts deep into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. When I was a kid, you could see coal seams in the layers of rock, but these days I am too busy driving to notice, and they have become somewhat overgrown by weeds.

Mile 36 Exit 36 is the interchange with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the first modern superhighway in the nation.

Mile 42 I-83 crosses the Susquehanna River, and on your left is downtown Harrisburg. Prepare for 8 more miles of white knuckle driving.

Mile 46: The Eisenhower Interchange The Eisenhower Interchange is named for President Eisenhower, whose leadership helped create the Interstate Highway System. My dad used to call it the concrete jungle due to the tangle of confusing ramps, congested traffic, and lanes suddenly disappearing. Several major highways meet here, including I-83, US Highway 322, and I-283. Drop your cell phone and watch the road while driving through here. A few miles east of the Eisenhower on US 322 is Hershey, offering a sweet detour to weary travellers.

Mile 50: Northern Terminus At mile 50, I-83 ends at the interchange with Interstate 81.

October 22, 2005

I did a little investigating of that big building on the hilltop near Strinestown. It is owned by a company called ES3. At their website, they inform us that they are in the food distribution business. In the parking lot were hundreds of semi-trailers, most of them either belonging to Wal-Mart or J.B. Hunt, one of Wal-Mart's main trucking companies. Oh, and they are adding onto it. While they appear to do a lot of business with Wal-Mart, they provide services to all comers that can take advantage of their services

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