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Interstate 83

Interstate 83

Total length: 84 miles (135 km)
Southern terminus: Baltimore, MD, at Fayette St.
Northern terminus: Harrisburg, PA, at JCT I-81

States traversed & length in each:

  • Maryland — 34 miles (55 km)
  • Pennsylvania — 50 miles (80 km)

Major cities along route:

  • Baltimore, MD
  • York, PA
  • Harrisburg, PA

Junctions with non-related Interstates:

Related loops and spurs:

  • Interstate 283 — 2.8 miles long; spur from I-83 just east of downtown Harrisburg, PA, south to I-76/Pennsylvania Turnpike in Middletown, PA; not to be confused with PA Route 283, which begins at I-283’s southern terminus and goes to Lancaster; I-83 Exit 46A

Length I’ve traveled: From MD Exit 12 (western I-695 junction) to northern terminus

Time zones:
Eastern — Entire length

Counties traversed:
Maryland — CITY OF BALTIMORE, Baltimore Co.

Pennsylvania — York, Cumberland, Dauphin

NOTE: Baltimore, MD is an independent city that is not part of Baltimore County. Hence, it is shown in ALL CAPS with “CITY OF ____” notation.

A quick hypertext drive: One of the shortest two-digit Interstate highways to go through at least two states, Interstate 83 connects Baltimore, MD with Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg. It starts on the north side of downtown Baltimore at a signalized intersection with Fayette Street; it had been intended to curve east from here and terminate at I-95 just east of the Fort McHenry Tunnel, but this segment of freeway was one of the many that were killed in Baltimore’s freeway revolts of the 1970s. The segment inside I-695/Baltimore Beltway is known as the Jones Falls Expressway, taking its name from a parallel creek, and Baltimoreans call this stretch simply “the JFX.”

Interstate 83 joins I-695 along the north side of town for a little over a mile, and then resumes its own alignment headed due north from the city. The exit and mile markers on this stretch north of I-695 appear to be based on the original planned terminus of the JFX at I-95, and most of them seem to be about two miles too high with respect to the actual mileage of I-83 in Maryland. In any case, just a few miles north of I-695, the terrain on I-83 starts to get hilly, and even more so within the last 10 miles before the Pennsylvania line.

Crossing into the Keystone State, I-83 flattens out a bit. Much of I-83 in Pennsylvania is quite substandard, with either nonexistent or very narrow left-hand shoulders and very short acceleration and deceleration lanes at interchanges. Even the fully-compliant sections were built in the narrowest possible right-of-way, and the whole highway has a very “tight” feeling to it. The highway follows a very close-in bypass of York, with a Business Loop I-83 (the only Interstate Business Loop in Pennsylvania) proceeding straight through town. North of York, after the highly substandard interchange with U.S. Route 30, I-83 heads back into hill country; the biggest hill to climb is Reesers Summit, about a mile south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

A couple miles north of the Turnpike, I-83 comes up to an interchange with Pennsylvania Route 581 that has some amazingly tight ramps, most of which have a recommended speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) or less. I-83 makes a 90° turn to the east here and crosses the John Harris Bridge into downtown Harrisburg. About two miles east of downtown, there is another terribly substandard section with no left shoulders and no acceleration/deceleration lanes at all, until an interchange with I-283 and U.S. Route 322, at which I-83 makes another 90° turn back to the north. Five miles later, I-83 runs into I-81 and terminates.

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