Harrisburg is certainly a smaller city, but a city nonetheless.
So, it has traffic, and as a commuter, I experience it each morning I drive into the city.
I leave my house at 7:56am so I can get to my Midtown destination by 8:30am. If I leave one moment later, I risk not being on time. I start my commute by turning onto Derry Street, which could lead me directly into the city by driving through Allison Hill and across the Mulberry Street Bridge. But since the bridge is closed through the rest of the year, I take I-83 South to 2nd Street.
Both Derry Street and I-83 are always filled with commuters, but overall the flow is steady. It isn’t until I’m nearing the city that traffic begins to get heavy. As I’m merging onto 2nd Street from the highway there is normally a very long line of cars waiting to get to jobs in and around Downtown. This is where those extra minutes come in handy. Without them, I’d be late.
When I get off of the exit, as soon as I am able to I zip into what should be the middle lane. I say, “should be” because there are no lines on the road. In fact, 2nd Street isn’t lined until just past Mary Street before you go under the railroad bridge.
I don’t have a problem with this, but it seems many others do. Of course, I can see why—some drivers need the direction. This is especially an issue in heavy traffic with many cars trying to figure out which way to go. I just make my way into the middle of the street and drive.
To add to the confusion, commuters merging onto 2nd Street from Paxton Street too often stop rather than yield to the cars from the highway, which slows everyone down and creates for a dangerous situation.
Once you get past the Hilton, other issues arise. Sometimes the businesses on Restaurant Row are having goods delivered. Beer or soda trucks clog up a lane and men with dollies piled high with boxes add to the congestion. Plus, right now there is construction on the right side of 2nd Street.
If you can’t make your way into the middle lane, you’re screwed.
This creates a whole other potential problem. Many drivers ride the side lanes until the last possible second then try to cut over. Traffic would run a lot smoother if everyone got into the middle lane right after they’ve merged onto 2nd Street. We would all reach our destinations quicker because the flow of cars could be more consistent.
Of course, some of you may argue that if all the drivers merged into the middle lane, traffic might extend farther back than it already does. This might be true, but it would eliminate the abrupt stops and cut offs.
Fortunately, these issues only last until about Forster Street then everything opens up.
The kicker is since my destination is Midtown, I wouldn’t even have to sit through traffic in the Downtown area if the Mulberry Street Bridge were open.
It’s certainly easier to get from my house to the city by driving straight in on Derry Street. It’s more scenic, too. I have always enjoyed driving through the Allison Hill area rather than cruising a boring highway. The homes are unique and the view of the city is beautiful.
I’ve found other ways to get into the city, such as using the State Street Bridge instead. Going that way, though, is much more difficult from my house, but at least it is another option for when I don’t feel like driving on the highway.
Overall, compared to other places a commute into Harrisburg isn’t terrible, even with the amount of morning commuters we have traveling into the city.
From one commuter to another, my is my tip is this—get in the middle lane and drive. Don’t bother with those side lanes.