In remarks at this week’s banquet to honor George M. Leader, someone — I think it was a banker — opined about one of the former Pennsylvania governor’s most significant accomplishments.
It was during his four-year term, starting in 1955, that Interstate 83 was completed from Baltimore through Harrisburg, the speaker stated. The linking of those two key cities meant an economic development boom that York County has enjoyed ever since… .
No doubt, progress on I-83 is an overlooked accomplishment of the Leader administration.
But the official date of Interstate 83’s completion came in late October 1959, after Leader left office.
“It’s official now,” a Gazette and Daily story said about the official date. “You can drive from the outskirts of Harrisburg to the outskirts of Baltimore without seeing a traffic light.”
David L. Lawrence, Leader’s successor as Pennsylvania’s governor, and his counterpart from Maryland, J. Millard Tawes, presided at the ribbon cutting at the Queen Street interchange.
Official events often come after the structure being celebrated actually opens. So, It would be interesting to know when the first car drove the length of the old Harrisburg-York-Baltimore Expressway, later I-83.
The following from my book “Never to be Forgotten” fills in some gaps:
I-83 makes imprint
A nine-mile stretch of future Interstate 83 from North York to Strinestown is dedicated. Roadwork began in 1950. The highway is referred to as the Harrisburg-York-Baltimore Expressway, the Susquehanna Expressway, U.S. Route 111 and the New York Road (as opposed to the Old York Road). It is named Interstate 83 in 1960 and covers 52 miles, counting ramps, service roads and the spur south from York to meet the interstate. Construction costs for the road come in at $34.5 million. The speed limit in those early years is 60 mph for cars and 50 mph for trucks. The interstate helps change the county landscape, opening the way for Marylanders to migrate north and commute south and Harrisburg-area residents to live south and drive north.