The diverging diamond interchange (DDI) at Interstate 83 Exit 4 (Route 851) in Shrewsbury Township, York County, is open to traffic and nearly complete. It's the second DDI to open in the district and only the third such interchange in the state.
While controversy seems to go with the turf with many large-scale transportation projects, there was a local consensus that Exit 4 was well designed, managed and coordinated. Local officials were happy with how the approximately $30 million project progressed and the department's responsiveness to Issues that arose during construction.
"It was a long project, but I was impressed with how smoothly it went," Southern Regional Police Chief James S. Boddington said. "We have been extremely happy with the process."
"I don't think it could have gone any better," said Art Rutledge, Shrewsbury Township Board of Supervisors' chair.
Shrewsbury Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Fire Chief Brad Dauberman, offered kudos to PennDOT, its consultants and prime contractor.
"Throughout the project, all parties involved kept the fire department well advised of closures that would affect our response. This was very helpful and allowed us to plan ahead in case we had to travel through or around the closures," Dauberman said.
He added, "As a resident, I have been very impressed with the speed and amount of personnel on site working at all times. We all knew there would be growing pains during the construction, but (the contractor) really tried to minimize that pain. We cannot thank them enough for getting the job done as quickly as possible."
Mr. Dauberman took on the role of unofficial project historian. He also chronicled it from start to finish – taking aerial drone photos that resulted in a stunning and thorough visual record. His meticulous work began just before the project began and continued through substantial completion. He shared these photos so friends, neighbors and other interested parties could see the interchange take shape.
"My goal was to post weekly or every couple of weeks, showing the progression of the project," he said. He began posting the photos on social media then created a website specifically for the drone photos.
"Brad provided a great service that kept everyone updated on the progress of the project," said Assistant Construction Manager Mike Reeder, who took over the project from original ACM Vaughn Schlachter.
"Brad's photos are spectacular," said Mark Malhenzie, District 8 design project manager. "They provide an excellent and unique view of the interchange layout that really can't be seen from ground level."
There was an old school component in the project, as well. Project staff had a scale model of the new interchange to refer to during construction. Created by consulting inspector Lynn Groff's husband Steve Groff, the model was completed in the spring of 2019, soon after the project began.
Steve said he made the model with household cardboard and materials found at a local crafts store. It took about 150 hours over several months to create.
"I simply wanted to test my artistic side, along with the challenge of maybe giving the project staff a 3D model to refer to," he said. "I was not assigned to the project, nor asked to build a model of it."
The actual project looks impressive and achieves the department's goal of improving safety and efficiency at the interchange. According to Mr. Dauberman, some commenters on his social media page predicted the new interchange design would result in highway mayhem. Those predictions simply did not come true – the interchange opened to traffic in late June and as of early September, no major crashes were reported, he said. Check out this time lapse video on PennDOT's Facebook page to see the DDI in action.
"Both diverging diamond interchange projects in District 8 – the Exit 4 DDI in York County and the Route 322/222 DDI in Lancaster County – were well designed, well managed and involved responsive contractors and consultants," acting District 8 Executive Chris Drda said. "With those ingredients, the success of both projects was inevitable."