Pennsylvania 581 / Harrisburg Expressway

Although signage is sparse, Pennsylvania 581 constitutes the southwest leg of the Harrisburg "Capital Beltway." The Capital Beltway also utilizes Interstate 83 and Interstate 81, making an ellipse within the Harrisburg metropolitan area. Also of interest is that Pennsylvania 581 is one of a few state route freeways with exit numbers within the Commonwealth. Exit numbers are signed sequentially.

The Harrisburg Expressway saw reconstruction in the mid to late 1990s. The road work transformed the freeway from a substandard 1960s style expressway into a modern freeway with a concrete jersey barrier median, shoulders, and sound barriers.


Pennsylvania 581 (Harrisburg Expressway) eastbound
Pennsylvania 581 departs Interstate 81 at a tri-level stack interchange near the community of Good Hope and travels southward toward the Exit 2 diamond interchange with Creekview Road. Creekview Road ventures between Lambs Gap Road and Good Hope Road to the north of the Conodoguinet Creek. Photo taken 10/08/01.
The Harrisburg Expressway passes underneath Creekview Road just west of Good Hope. Attached to the overcrossing is the 0.75-guide sign for U.S. 11 (Exit 3). U.S. 11 follows the Carlisle Pike east from Middlesex and Hogestown to its merge with Pennsylvania 581 at Sporting Hill. Photo taken 10/08/01.
Pennsylvania 581 eastbound at the Skyport Road overcrossing midway between Creekview Road and U.S. 11 (Carlisle Pike). The Harrisburg Expressway reduces from four to six lanes at the modified trumpet interchange with Carlisle Pike. U.S. 11 northbound merges onto Pennsylvania 581 east between Exit 3 and Exit 5 at Camp Hill. Photo taken 10/08/01.
U.S. 11 north & Pennsylvania 581 eastbound between Pennsylvania 641 (Trindle Road) and U.S. 15 (Gettysburg Pike). U.S. 11 northbound departs the Harrisburg Expressway via Exit 5B to join U.S. 15 northbound along 32nd Street. The two share pavement between Camp Hill, Lemoyne, and Enola between Pennsylvania 581 and Interstate 81 near Marysville. Photo taken 10/08/01.
Pennsylvania 581 eastbound at Exit 5B for U.S. 15 southbound. U.S. 15 continues southward as a limited access highway to Mount Allen. The freeway provides a direct link with the Pennsylvania Turnpike/Interstate 76 at Exit 236. U.S. 15 continues southwest from Harrisburg to Gettysburg and Frederick, Maryland from here. Photo taken 10/08/01.
Pennsylvania 581 continues east of the full-cloverleaf interchange with U.S. 11 & 15 (Gettysburg Pike / 32nd Street) to Interstate 83 (Exits 6B/A). The upcoming interchange marks the eastern terminus of Pennsylvania 581 and Capital Beltway transition onto Interstate 83 northbound to Harrisburg itself. Photo taken 10/08/01.
Drawing to within one mile of the Exit 6 trumpet interchange with Interstate 83. Interstate 83 enters the junction from New Cumberland to the south and turns east toward downtown Harrisburg and Oakleigh. The freeway crosses the John Harris Bridge over the Susquehanna River east of Lemoyne and Pennsylvania 581. Photo taken 10/08/01.
Exit 6B leaves Pennsylvania 581 (Harrisburg Expressway) eastbound for Interstate 83 southbound. Interstate 83 meets the Pennsylvania Turnpike in two miles on the 20 mile drive to York. Interstate 83 was built in the 1950s and 1960s to replace U.S. 111 between Baltimore, Maryland and Harrisburg. The eastbound lanes of Pennsylvania 581 otherwise default onto Interstate 83 northbound for Lemoyne, Harrisburg, and Hershey via connections with U.S. 322 east. Photo taken 10/08/01.
Pennsylvania 581 (Harrisburg Expressway) westbound
The westbound beginning of Pennsylvania 581 and the Harrisburg Expressway. A Capital Beltway trailblazer lies just west of the split from Interstate 83 southbound at milepost 7.3. Photo taken 06/02/04.
The first westbound reassurance marker of Pennsylvania 581. Pennsylvania 581 exists as a four-lane facility between Interstate 83 and the U.S. 11 (Carlisle Pike) at Exit 2. The Harrisburg Expressway saw construction in the 1960s between Interstate 83 and Camp Hill. Photo taken 06/02/04.
1.75-mile sign bridge for the Exits 5A/B cloverleaf interchange with U.S. 11 & 15 (Gettysburg Pike / 32nd Street). U.S. 11 southbound merges onto Pennsylvania 581 westbound from 32nd Street in Camp Hill. U.S. 11 & 15 overlap between Sunbury and Shamokin Dam southward to Camp Hill and the Harrisburg Expressway. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Exit 5A leaves Pennsylvania 581 westbound for U.S. 11 & 15 (32nd Street) north. The US highway tandem follow 32nd Street north to Cumberland Boulevard and the Camp Hill Bypass / Walnut Street. From there U.S. 11 & 15 straddle the Susquehanna River northward through Wormleysburg, West Fairview, Enola, and Marysville. Photo taken 06/02/04.
A partial-interchange serves Pennsylvania 641 (Trindle Road) and the town of Mechanicsburg from U.S. 11 south & Pennsylvania 581 west at Exit 4. Pennsylvania 641 stems west from U.S. 11 & 15 (32nd Street) to Shiremanstown and Mechanicsburg southwest of the Harrisburg Expressway. There is no access to Pennsylvania 641 from the freeway eastbound. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Reassurance shields posted for the U.S. 11 south & Pennsylvania 581 westbound overlap. Pennsylvania 581 retains precedence along the Harrisburg Expressway signage. Photo taken 06/02/04.
U.S. 11 departs the Harrisburg Expressway at Exit 3 for the Carlisle Pike. The US route follows Carlisle Pike from Sporting Hill west to Hogestown, Middlesex, and Carlisle itself. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Exit 4 leaves U.S. 11 south & Pennsylvania 581 west for Pennsylvania 641 (Trindle Road). A loop ramp departs the freeway for Central Boulevard just ahead of its intersection with Trindle Road. Pennsylvania 641 otherwise travels between Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg, and Carlisle. Photo taken 06/02/04.
One mile east of the U.S. 11 southbound split with Pennsylvania 581 at Exit 3. A half-diamond interchange carries U.S. 11 south from the Harrisburg Expressway at Sporting Hill. The Carlisle Pike otherwise continues east from Exit 3 to Market Street in Camp Hill. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Pennsylvania 581 westbound at the ramp departure of U.S. 11 southbound for Carlisle Pike and Sporting Hill. U.S. 11 meets Interstate 81 and Interstate 76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) at Middlesex five miles to the west. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Continuing northward on the Harrisburg Expressway between U.S. 11 (Carlisle Pike) and the Skyport Road overpass. The final mainline interchange serves Creekview Road and Good Hope at Exit 2. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Pennsylvania 581 west & Capital Beltway reassurance markers posted after the Skyport Road overpass. The Capital Beltway turns easterly along Interstate 81 north from the Harrisburg Expressway to north Harrisburg. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Pennsylvania 581 westbound at the Exit 2 diamond interchange with Creekview Road. Creekview Road ends at Lambs Gap Road to the west and Orrs Bridge Road to the east. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Diagrammatic overhead placed one mile south of the tri-level stack interchange of Pennsylvania 581 with Interstate 81. Interstate 81 straddles the northern reaches of the Harrisburg metropolitan area between Carlisle and Paxtonia. Photo taken 06/02/04.
The Pennsylvania 581 westbound mainline defaults onto Interstate 81 north (Exit 1A) for Harrisburg. Interstate 81 interchanges with Pennsylvania 944 next near Mount Zion before meeting U.S. 11 & 15 at Summerdale near the Susquehanna River. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Traffic partitions between Interstate 81 south to Carlisle, Chambersburg, and Hagerstown, Maryland and Interstate 81 north to Harrisburg, Hazleton, and Allentown (via Interstate 78 east). A pair of end shields lie ahead for Pennsylvania 581. Photo taken 06/02/04.
A closer look at the end shield of Pennsylvania 581 along the Exit 1A off-ramp to Interstate 81 north. The tri-level stack interchange between the two freeways sat for years unused awaiting the completion of Pennsylvania 581 between Interstate 81 and U.S. 11 (Carlisle Pike). The freeway opened to traffic in the mid 1990s. Photo taken 06/02/04.
Pennsylvania 581 scenes
Pennsylvania 581 heading west towards the terminus with Interstate 81. Although signed east-west, Pennsylvania 581 is actually headed north at this point. This stetch only came into existence in the mid 1990s, when the gap between Interstate 81 and the original Harrisburg Expressway was bridged. The original Harrisburg Expressway begun at the U.S. 11 interchange (Exit 3). Photo taken from the Creekview Road interchange (Exit 2) on July 1, 2000.
West Pennsylvania 581 shield and guide sign on Creekview Road north. Notice that Carlisle is also a control city. This town is near the junction of Interstates 76 and 81, and shows up as a control city for Interstate 81 south as well. Photo taken 07/01/00.
Eastbound view of the Expressway from the Creekview Road overpass. Although the original expressway ended at U.S. 11. Upon completion of the segment to Interstate 81, the original freeway was reconstructed to modern standards. Photo taken 07/01/00.

Page Updated February 26, 2005.

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