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PennDOT Pathways I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project Virtual Public Meeting - November 2021

I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project

Virtual Public Meeting

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PennDOT welcomes you to the Virtual Public Meeting for the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project. Click the video below for an introduction to the project:

Click here to download a PDF transcript of the video.

Thank you for joining us for this Virtual Public Meeting to learn more about the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project. We're here to provide information about the project's design plans, potential tolling implementation, environmental studies and mitigation, and schedule.

You can access this meeting anytime between noon Nov. 1 and 11:59 p.m. Dec. 1, 2021, at your convenience.

We encourage comments on the project. Comments will be accepted through Dec. 1 when the meeting closes.

Comments may be submitted via the comment form at the bottom of this meeting's web page, via email to, by leaving a message on our hotline at (814) 201-9939 or by sending a letter to PennDOT District 10, Attn: I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project, 2550 Oakland Avenue, Indiana, PA 15701-3388.

How To Navigate This Meeting

To advance to the next portion of the meeting, scroll down or use the navigation bar at the top of the page to revisit any part of the meeting.

Project Overview

The Canoe Creek Bridges

The I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges are dual multi-span structures (one eastbound and one westbound) that were built in 1966, extended in 1985 and underwent multiple repairs for cracking since 2013. These bridges cross over Canoe Creek and SR 4005 (Tippecanoe Road) in Beaver Township, Clarion County. Combined, they will carry an estimated average of 30,119 vehicles per day by 2025. About 50 percent of the traffic over these bridges is truck traffic.

Study Area Map

The study area for the Canoe Creek Bridges Project extends approximately three miles on I-80, from the Knox Interchange over the bridges to a pair of weigh stations near milepost 56.5. The project includes the total replacement of both the eastbound and westbound Canoe Creek Bridges, as well as improved roadway alignment and geometry.

Purpose & Need

The purpose of the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project is to provide a safe and reliable crossing of I-80 over Tippecanoe Road and Canoe Creek. While both bridges have been repaired several times throughout their lifespan, recent inspections show the westbound bridge is in poor condition, and the eastbound bridge is in fair condition.

We've identified several needs this project is intended to address:

Current and increasing traffic volumes

I-80 is a major trucking route through Pennsylvania, and this portion of the corridor is a vital thoroughfare in the rural western part of the state.

The bridge's aging structure

At 55 years old, the bridges are aging and are fracture critical, meaning they will soon require more frequent and costly repairs. In addition, the age and condition of the bridges necessitate more frequent inspections, increasing the amount of short-term lane closures.

Need for design improvements

There is also a need for general design improvements throughout the corridor to improve safety and meet modern design standards.

Where We Are Now

Through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process, the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project was approved as a Categorical Exclusion (See explanation below in Environmental Studies & Mitigation section) in April 2020, and the project team then moved forward with final design.

PennDOT is reevaluating the Categorical Exclusion (CE) for this project because it is one of several that are being evaluated as a candidate for bridge tolling. More information on bridge tolling and the PennDOT Pathways program can be found in the Bridge Tolling section below.

As part of the environmental reevaluation, PennDOT is analyzing how bridge tolling may impact local communities and how the alternate routes drivers could take to avoid the toll may impact local traffic and roadways.

When the Categorical Exclusion was originally completed for the project, a plans display and public officials meeting was held on September 5, 2019, at the Knox Volunteer Fire Company. No substantial public concerns were raised during this outreach process.

The project is currently in final design. Construction is anticipated to begin between 2023 and 2025.

Canoe Creek bridge over Tippecanoe Road
I-80 above Canoe Creek and Tippecanoe Road

Project Design

The project includes the total replacement of both the eastbound and westbound Canoe Creek Bridges, as well as improved roadway alignment and geometry. The limits of the project extend approximately three miles on I-80, from the Knox Interchange, over the Canoe Creek Bridges to a pair of weigh stations near milepost 56.5.

Part of the project also includes the rehabilitation of the existing reinforced concrete Thompson Hill Arch Culvert that carries an unnamed tributary to Canoe Creek under I-80. The existing wingwalls at the inlet and outlet of the culvert are deteriorated and will be replaced. Stream channel embankments will be protected with rock to prevent future erosion near the inlet and outlet of the culvert. In addition, a reinforced concrete slab will be constructed along the floor of the culvert to prevent further scour of the streambed within the limits of the culvert.

The project's overall design remains essentially the same as it was at the time of its CE approval in April 2020.

Two lanes of traffic in both directions of I-80 will be maintained during construction.

Click to see a detailed project design.

Bridge Tolling


The estimated cost of construction for the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project is between $90 million and $105 million.

PennDOT Pathways is a program to identify and implement alternative funding solutions for Pennsylvania's transportation system. As Pennsylvania's mobility needs have grown, the amount of funding required to support our transportation system has continued to increase. Much of our current funding comes from gas taxes and driver and vehicle fees. While this model worked well in the past, circumstances today have made it unsustainable. With PennDOT Pathways, we're looking for reliable, future-focused funding solutions that will meet our growing needs while serving our communities and all Pennsylvanians for generations to come.

PennDOT currently faces an $8.1 billion gap in highway and bridge funding. This means we aren't generating enough funds to properly maintain, restore and expand our transportation system. PennDOT is taking action to find reliable sources of funding through the PennDOT Pathways program.

For more information about PennDOT Pathways, visit

To support PennDOT Pathways, a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study was conducted to identify near- and long-term funding solutions and establish a methodology for their evaluation. One of the funding solutions it identified as being able to implement immediately is tolling on major bridge projects across the state. The I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project is one of several projects being evaluated as a candidate for bridge tolling as a part of the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership Initiative (MBP3I). You can learn more about the program and initiative at the link above.

A bridge toll is a fee that drivers pay when using a specific bridge, often by using a service like E-ZPass. The funds received from the bridge toll would go back to the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges to pay for their construction, maintenance and operation.

Toll Implementation

Based on feedback received from the public and at stakeholder workshops, and because of the close proximity of the two candidate bridges on the western end of I-80 and the two on the eastern end, PennDOT has decided to pursue one-way tolling on four bridge projects: Canoe Creek, North Fork, Nescopeck and Lehigh River bridges. Traffic would be tolled eastbound at Canoe Creek, westbound at North Fork, and eastbound at Lehigh River, westbound at Nescopeck. Tolls are expected to be $1-$2 for passenger cars using E-ZPass at each toll location. The one-way tolling will reduce overall diversions and reduce the need for tolling infrastructure to be built.

To implement the toll with All-Electronic Tolling (such as E-ZPass or toll-by-plate), a tolling facility (gantry, building and utilities) would be constructed for the eastbound lanes about 1.1 miles east of the new bridges, in the area of existing weigh stations and would require the installation of a small driveway/parking area along the eastbound shoulder for maintenance and access. The tolling facility would not require drivers to stop to pay a toll when using the bridge but would record vehicles as they pass under the gantry sensor. A map of the toll gantry location is below.

In addition, signs would be placed in advance of the eastbound Knox Interchange and along the local roadway network to notify drivers about the toll bridge.

PennDOT has established that tolls on the candidate bridges, including the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges, would be in the range of $1-$2 for cars using E-ZPass and higher for toll-by-plate and for medium or heavy trucks. Exact tolling amounts would be determined after design plans are finalized so the toll will generate enough revenue for the bridges' replacement, operations and maintenance for a period of approximately 30 years. At the end of the 30-year term for the Public-Private Partnership (P3), the tolling facility would be removed.

Qualifying emergency vehicles would be permitted to use Pathways' bridges at no cost, following the Pennsylvania Turnpike Policy (PDF).

It is expected that toll collection on the bridge would begin between 2023 and 2025.

Environmental Studies & Mitigation

Categorical Exclusion

A Categorical Exclusion is a detailed study into how a project would affect the surrounding community's quality of life, including health, safety, cultural resources, natural resources and more. A reevaluation of the CE is being prepared for the I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges Project to address the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as the project is considered for bridge tolling through the PennDOT Pathways program.

Your input is an important component of this CE reevaluation. The public is encouraged to provide comments during this public meeting comment period.

Section 106 (Cultural Resources)

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is applicable to federal agencies and requires identification of, and assessment of effects on, historic properties and archaeological sites listed on, or eligible for listing on, the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Consultation with persons interested in the historic and archaeological properties/sites is integral to the Section 106 process and the public's involvement in the project. The Section 106 process includes identifying an area of potential effect (APE) for the project, and inviting property owners within that APE, as well as historical societies and others, to participate in the Section 106 process as "Consulting Parties." Separate APEs are established for the archaeological investigations and for above-ground historical properties.

One recorded historic industrial site, 36CL0198 Tippecanoe Furnace was re-identified via pedestrian survey. The 36CL0198 Tippecanoe Furnace site is located almost entirely within existing PennDOT right of way; however, during construction the furnace remains will be fenced off and avoided. Any intact soils at the site or in the immediate vicinity would either be fenced off and avoided or protected using geotextile and the appropriate amount of fill.

Of the areas with intact soils in the APE, there are two locations, designated Area A and Area B, that are going to be impacted and were deemed to contain intact soils with archaeological potential. A Phase I survey consisting of sub-surface excavation was conducted within these areas. One unrecorded site with pre-contact and historic components, 36CL0211 Edenburg Well site was identified. However, the portion of the site within the APE does not contribute to the site's overall eligibility. During construction, to prevent inadvertent disturbance, the portion of the site beyond the APE would be fenced off and avoided.

Wetland and Waterways Impacts

Wetland and waterway impacts were studied as a part of the Categorical Exclusion environmental studies for the project. The following impacts were identified.

Streams, Rivers & Watercourses Presence Impacts
Intermittent (Streams only) Present 1,794 linear feet
Perennial Present 160 linear feet
Wild Trout Streams Present 1,954 linear feet
Stocked Trout Streams Present 1,954 linear feet
Federal Wild & Scenic Rivers & Streams Not Present No
State Scenic Rivers & Streams Not Present No
Coast Guard Navigable Waterways Not Present No
Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Water Trail Not Present No
Recreational Boating Waterway Present No

Canoe Creek and 19 of its unnamed tributaries were identified in the immediate project area. These streams were identified by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Chapter 93 Water Quality Standards as High Quality Cold Water Fishes streams. About 1,954 linear feet of streams would be impacted due to the permanent widening of the bridge and culvert extensions. There would also be 2,182 linear feet of temporary stream impacts during construction. Due to the unavoidable permanent impacts to the jurisdictional streams associated with the I-80 Canoe Creek Project, there is a total loss of 95 linear feet that would be mitigated off-site.

Canoe Creek is designated as both a "Stocked Trout Water" and a "Wild Trout Water" stream. As a result, no work will be permitted in the stream from March 1 to June 15 (for stocked trout) and October 1 to December 31 (for wild trout).

Wetlands Presence Impacts
Open Water Not Present No
Vegetated Emergent Present 0.085 acres
Vegetated Scrub Shrub Not Present No
Vegetated Forested Not Present No
Exceptional Value Present 0.085 acres

Field investigations identified and delineated 18 wetlands within the project study area. There would be permanent impacts to five wetland areas as a result of the project. The total acreage of these impacts is 0.085 acres.

Wetland impacts would be mitigated through PennDOT's Clarion County Wetland Bank. Remaining acreage within the bank is 1.997 acres. Stream impacts would be mitigated through use of Resource Environmental Solutions off-site mitigation banks and on-site mitigation. Wetlands within the project study area that are not impacted by the project would be delineated with protective orange construction fence.

Canoe Creek surrounded by dense woodlands
Canoe Creek

Threatened & Endangered Plants & Animals

A review determined there are no known impacts anticipated to threatened and endangered plants and animals within the project area.

Traffic Diversion Analysis

Traffic diversion analysis is comprised of two distinct steps: The first is the development of the traffic model to predict how much traffic would divert off the interstate when a toll is imposed and what route that traffic would take. The second step is evaluating and analyzing the diversion routes identified to determine the impact of the diverted traffic on that route and to identify potential improvements to offset those impacts where appropriate.

A detailed traffic demand model was used to identify diversion routes. The existing statewide demand model that was employed is based on assumptions involving the transportation system, regional demographics and traveler characteristics. These assumptions were then combined using data from traffic counts (including the share of truck traffic), recorded travel speeds and origin and destination patterns, along with regional travel demand models. The model was then run under various parameters to predict the amount of traffic that would be diverted off the interstate and more importantly, where that traffic would go.

If a toll is placed on the Canoe Creek Bridge, an estimated 5 percent of daily traffic is expected to choose to divert off the interstate to avoid paying the toll, based on the results of the detailed traffic model. The diverting traffic would be predominantly passenger vehicles and small trucks. The model was also used to analyze what routes they would predominantly take. As mentioned above, based in part on feedback received from the public and at stakeholder workshops, PennDOT has decided to pursue one-way tolling for the four I-80 bridges and would only collect tolls on the eastbound Canoe Creek Bridge.

So where would the majority of the diverting traffic go? The primary diversion route identified in the model is along State Routes 338 and 208 to Shippenville, along US Route 322 and on State Route 66 south of Marianne. This route is shown on the map below. You can click on the map to enlarge it.

Click to view map larger.

As you can see from the table below, with the toll in place the AM and PM peak hour traffic on the bridges would be reduced by approximately 90 to 130 vehicles per hour, and the primary diversion route would increase by approximately 60 to 70 vehicles per hour, with the remainder of traffic expected to use other routes. Because the toll will only be collected on eastbound traffic, there is no expected diversion in the westbound direction.

Route Time of Day Pre-Toll Traffic Post-Toll Traffic
Primary Diversion Route AM Peak Hour 380 440
Primary Diversion Route PM Peak Hour 490 560
I-80 Canoe Creek Bridges AM Peak Hour 2,100 2,010
I-80 Canoe Creek Bridge PM Peak Hour 2,850 2,720

The origin-destination patterns are also taken into account in looking at diversion. The origin-destination criteria is divided into three categories: local (less than 10 miles), regional (10-25 miles) and external (more than 25 miles). As you can see in the graphic below, the majority of the traffic traveling over the bridges originates from external locations and is destined to external locations. Because these trips are typically long-distance trips, this type of traffic is more likely to stay on the interstate and not divert.

When people hear about vehicles diverting from the interstate to avoid a tolled bridge, they often envision what happens when there is a full traffic detour. To distinguish between a diversion and a detour in simple terms, diversions are a choice, detours are mandatory.

Detours are imposed because of construction or an incident on a roadway or bridge and those detours must be followed. In contrast to a detour, diversion from the interstate is a choice that drivers may make to avoid a toll and the diversion traffic is normally a small fraction of the number of vehicles compared to detours, when 100 percent of traffic leaves the interstate.

Traffic Diversion Methodology

Once it was determined how much traffic would divert and the primary route that would be utilized, a comprehensive evaluation of the potential impacts to the diversion route was undertaken. The graphic below highlights the key methodology for the evaluation of the diversion route.

Route Identification
Prioritize routes that add more than 100 vehicles per day
Traffic Projections
No toll vs. tolling scenario comparisons
Route Conditions
Intersections, traffic control, signage, & pavement conditions
Crash Data Summary
Identify crash patterns & crash rates
Capacity Analysis
Depict operational issues & capacity limitations
Roadway Review
Evaluation of lane widths and pavement structure
Alternative Transportation Modes
Transit, bus, bike lanes, etc.
Potential Mitigation Options
Evaluation of options to offset impacts to community

A workshop was conducted with key stakeholders (including elected officials, first responders, school districts, regional planners, etc.) in July 2021 to discuss the diversion route analysis, collect information on additional routes drivers might take and potential impacts from diverting traffic. This feedback was incorporated into the traffic diversion analysis and evaluated to identify where toll diversion may cause adverse effects and examine potential ways to offset these impacts. The analysis and recommended improvements are shared below.

Traffic Evaluation

An extensive traffic study was conducted of the primary diversion route, including field observations and stakeholder coordination, traffic counts, capacity analysis, and crash analysis.

Field Observation

Field observations included:

    • Travel time measurements on I-80 and along the diversion route
    • Congestion levels
    • Sight-distance measurements
    • Non-motorized travel patterns (including horse and buggy travel)
    • Pedestrian and bus traffic around Keystone Schools and the Clarion County Career Center.
  • Intermittent congestion was noted at the unsignalized intersection of SR 208 (Railroad Street) and SR 322, and at the signalized intersection of SR 322 and SR 66.
  • The corner sight distance at the intersection of SR 322/SR 3007 was found to be limited by vegetation but acceptable.
Crash Analysis

The crash analysis looked at five years of data on reported crashes and identified clusters at four locations:

  • SR 322/SR 66 intersection
  • SR 322 through Marianne Estates
  • SR 208/SR 338 intersection
  • SR 338 at Swartzfager Welding

These clusters were evaluated using the Highway Safety Manual methodology, and expected crashes exceeded projected crash rates at the SR 322/SR 66 intersection, indicating that this location has potential for safety improvement. Increased diversion route traffic may increase the predicted crashes.

Capacity Analysis
  • Capacity analysis was conducted at the 11 intersections along the diversion route. Estimated 2023 and 2040 traffic volumes were projected based upon the counts and regional growth factors.
  • Increased traffic along the primary diversion route following the implementation of tolling was estimated using the Statewide Traffic Model.
  • The capacity analysis indicated that all study area intersections are projected to operate at a low level of congestion in the future and toll diversion would not cause a substantial increase in traffic.
  • Field observations indicated intermittent congestion at the intersection of SR 208 (Railroad Street) and SR 322 caused by turning trucks that periodically resulted in delays notably greater than the overall average.

Concerns about the project area that were discussed during stakeholder coordination included:

  • The pavement of SR 338 is at the end of its useful life and may not be suitable to accommodate diversion traffic.
  • Emergency responders in the area reported that congestion at signalized intersections can delay response times and expressed concern over potential increases due to diversion traffic.
  • Concerns were also expressed by stakeholders over the impact of tolling on economic development projects and on low-income individuals.

Coordination took place with Knox Borough officials to gather additional information on Plain Sect populations and travel patterns.

Traffic Counts

Intersection turning movement counts were conducted at 11 intersections along the primary diversion route, including three signalized intersections, as shown on the Diversion Route Map, during the AM peak, midday, and PM peak periods. These counts included separate tabulations of pedestrians, motorcycles, cars, trucks, medium trucks and heavy trucks. Video was taken during the counts to document traffic operations.

Diversion Route Improvements

Based on feedback received during outreach and the subsequent analyses, numerous improvements were evaluated and are detailed below. Because modeling forecasts can sometimes differ from actual impacts, before and after studies will be conducted on the diversion routes. These studies will confirm the models' results or identify areas where additional evaluations should be conducted to identify improvements for consideration and potential implementation.

Based upon detailed evaluation of issues identified by project stakeholders, the following improvements along the diversion route are proposed to accommodate the effects of tolling diversion:

  • Remove vegetation to improve sight distance issues at the stop sign at SR 338 and SR 3007 (Canoe Ripple Road)
  • Repave SR 3007 and SR 338 between I-80 and SR 208 to accommodate anticipated increased truck traffic
  • Install emergency vehicle signal preemption equipment at the intersection of SR 208 and SR 338 to improve response times, subject to municipal approval
  • Install a traffic signal at the intersection of SR 208 (Railroad Street) and SR 322 to improve traffic operations, subject to municipal approval
  • Install emergency vehicle signal preemption equipment at the intersection of SR 208 (School Street) and SR 322 to improve response times, subject to municipal approval
  • Make geometric improvements at the intersection of SR 66 and SR 322 to improve safety and traffic operations. Additionally, emergency vehicle signal preemption will be installed to improve response times
Click to view map larger.

Environmental Justice Considerations

Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority and Low-Income Populations (February 11, 1994), directs federal agencies to identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of programs, policies and activities on minority and low-income populations.

  • Low-income is defined as a person whose median household income is at or below the Department of Health and Human Services federal poverty guidelines ($26,500 for a household of four).
  • Minority is a person who is: (1) Black (2) Hispanic or Latino (3) Asian American (4) American Indian and Alaskan Native, or (5) Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

Implementation of a toll would affect all bridge users regardless of income and minority status. Because tolls would comprise a larger percentage of a low-income bridge user's income, tolls would have a greater effect on these users, particularly if they depend on the bridge for daily travel to work or other destinations. As a result, and in keeping with other Department of Human Services (DHS) financial assistance programs offered in Pennsylvania (SNAP, Medicaid, LIHEAP), PennDOT is proposing to offer toll-free bridge access to low-income persons qualifying for one or more of these DHS programs. The DHS financial assistance programs use a progressive income limit based on the number of people in a household (equivalent to about $35,000 for a family of four — but it varies slightly by DHS program). Individuals who qualify for toll-free bridge access would select one toll bridge from the Major Bridge P3 Initiative to apply these benefits.

Preliminary analysis, U.S. Census data, and information received from PennDOT outreach initiatives indicate that low-income populations may live along the traffic diversion route. As indicated in the Traffic Diversion Analysis section above, PennDOT would make minor roadway improvements to minimize effects on the diversion route.

Nevertheless, PennDOT is seeking participation by potentially affected communities to understand how the effects of increased traffic may impact low-income and minority populations. You are encouraged to contribute to our understanding of local conditions by submitting your comments during the comment period.

Project Schedule

The project is currently in final design. The next step is to complete the environmental studies and prepare the reevaluation of the Categorical Exclusion. Construction is anticipated to begin between 2023 and 2025 with a three- to four-year construction period.