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 www.penndot.gov/funding.
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.
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.