Regionally Integrated Transportation System Components
The Harrisburg region’s centralized location makes it a transportation hub, served by a diverse transportation system including several interstates, intermodal and freight centers, freight and passenger rail, transit and a non-motorized network.
Roadways & Bridges
Harrisburg’s highway and bridge network, with 5,000 miles of roadway, is used most often by the region’s residents and commuters. Being on the Federal Aid System is a common denominator when it comes to funding transportation improvements with federal dollars. In the HATS region, approximately 1,700 miles of roadway are on the Federal Aid System.
The region is served by many major highways on the National Highway System (NHS), including I-81, I-83, I-76 (PA Turnpike), I-283, US 11, US 15, US 22, US 322, US 422, PA 283, PA 581, PA 230 and the Airport Connector (SR 3032). In total, the three counties have 323 linear miles of the NHS.
Below the NHS, the region’s remaining minor arterials and major collectors comprise the Harrisburg area’s Federal-Aid Highway System. As the name suggests, Federal-Aid roads are eligible for construction, maintenance and operation funding. They are critical to the HATS region, providing linkages between the NHS and local communities. Some notable Federal-Aid roads in the region include US 209, PA 34, PA 74, PA 147 and PA 225.
When they are sound, bridges are often taken for granted by the average motorist. But in cases where they cannot accommodate modern loads or traffic volumes, bridges can exact significant costs in time and fuel as users are forced to detour to their destination.
Bridges are eligible for federal funding when they are over 20 feet. In every case, a bridge’s sufficiency rating determines its federal funding eligibility. Sufficiency ratings between 50 and 80 are eligible for rehabilitation funding. A bridge is eligible for replacement funds when its sufficiency rating is below 50.
About 9 percent of the region's bridges are structural deficient (SD) and about 18 percent are functional obsolete (FO). Local bridges are twice as likely to be SD when compared with their state counterparts. The same applies to FO bridges but to a lesser extent. Overall, the region’s structurally deficient bridges have increased nearly 10 percent from 142 in 2013 to 155 in 2018. Square footage of structurally deficient deck area has increased in the same period.
Existing Bike-Ped Facilities:
The HATS region boasts many important bicycle and pedestrian facilities. The City of Harrisburg is home to the Capital Area Greenbelt, a 20-mile loop trail connecting downtown to the surrounding neighborhoods and communities. The Jonathon Eshenour Memorial Trail is a 13.5-mile multi-use trail connecting parks, commercial areas and neighborhoods in Derry Township. The Cumberland County Rail Trail currently connects Newville to Shippensburg Borough, with connections to Carlisle currently underway. Other important bicycle and pedestrian trails include the Stony Valley Rail Trail and Lykens Valley Rail Trail in northern Dauphin County and the Appalachian Trail, which runs through the HATS region from southwest Cumberland County to northeast Dauphin County.
Finally, PennDOT’s State Bicycle Route J is located along Route 11/15 in Cumberland and Perry counties. On the west side of the Market Street Bridge in Wormleysburg, it splits into three branches heading to various points south.
The HATS region supports two Amtrak passenger stations. The Harrisburg Station (HAR) is located in the Harrisburg Transportation Center and saw a total of 504,192 on/offs in 2017. This station is the western terminus of the Keystone service, which provides access to most of the eastern seaboard. The Pennsylvanian service runs once daily through Harrisburg, providing service to Pittsburgh and points west.
The second station in the region is located in Middletown (MID). This station only provides access to the Keystone service, with transfer available at other stations. Amtrak service between Harrisburg and Middletown is used for commuting as well as business and leisure travel. The station saw a total of 68,132 on/offs in fiscal year 2017.
The eastern portion of Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor, the primary service connecting Harrisburg and Philadelphia, is currently seeing construction of new stations and facilities and improvements at others, including the Middletown station.
The area is also served by Class I railroad Norfolk Southern. It is the region’s primary provider of rail freight service, with over 198 miles of track in the three-county region. Norfolk Southern is currently investing millions of dollars to improve the segment of the Crescent Corridor that traverses the HATS region.
The Norfolk Southern Harrisburg Line is expected to remain critical and is currently expanding capacity. Intermodal shipments, converted to trucks at a rail intermodal yard (e.g. NS Rutherford and Harrisburg Yards), are the fastest growing segment of the rail industry. Norfolk Southern’s intermodal yards also represent two of four National Highway System intermodal connectors in the region -- a federal designation noting the importance of these facilities for goods movement. It also applies to facilities that are essential to people movement such as the Harrisburg Transportation Center and Harrisburg International Airport, an NHS connector that moves both people and freight.
The Steelton and Highspire Railroad provides access between Pennsylvania Steel Technologies on the former Bethlehem Steel site in Steelton and Highspire boroughs and Norfolk Southern’s operations along the Amtrak Keystone Corridor.
The Middletown and Hummelstown Railroad (M&H) operates a short-line railroad between its namesake communities in southern Dauphin County. In Hummelstown, the line connects with the Norfolk Southern Harrisburg line. The railroad has four at-grade crossings, including a notable one across US 322. This crossing in particular limits crossings to Hummelstown at 12 per year, which minimizes freight movement along the line. The line also features several shippers that would not survive without rail freight access. In addition to freight services, the M&H also provides passenger excursion trips from Middletown.
The Gettysburg and Northern Railroad operates a 25-mile long line between Gettysburg in Adams County and Mount Holly Springs in Cumberland County. In Gettysburg, the line interchanges with CSX; in Mount Holly Springs, it interchanges with Norfolk Southern. In 2017, the railroad received $107,250 in state funding to rehabilitate and install a new turnout to an existing dead-end stub track siding to create a 2,400 turnaround track.
The region is served by two primary airports: Harrisburg International Airport (HIA) in Lower Swatara Township, Dauphin County, and Capital City Airport (CCA) in Fairview Township, York County.
HIA is south-central Pennsylvania’s primary passenger and air freight facility while CCA provides general aviation services. Since January 2, 1998, both HIA and CCA have been owned and operated by the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority (SARAA).
HIA is Pennsylvania’s third-largest passenger airport. Most major US airline carriers and their subsidiary regional carriers serve the airport. It also houses an air cargo apron used by UPS, Fedex and American Airlines. The airport is about 800 acres in size and has one 10,004-foot-long runway. Air traffic is controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration. The airport also has a US Customs facility to handle international activity.
In addition to its general aviation services, CCA functions as a reliever airport for HIA, handling excess aviation operations that would overburden or create safety hazards at HIA. CCA has two runways measuring 5,001 feet and 3,925 feet. The shorter secondary runway is used mainly to avoid aircraft conflicts with HIA, which is located three miles to the east and has intersecting flight patterns with CCA. CCA also provides aircraft maintenance services and flight instruction classes.
Several other general aviation facilities also serve the region, including:
- Carlisle Airport
- Bendigo Airport
- Shippensburg Airport
- Penn Valley Airport
- Gettysburg Regional Airport
- Franklin County Regional Airport
All of the region's airports have a significant impact on the local and state economy, as shown in the table below: