This project is one of nine that are being evaluated as a candidate for bridge tolling as part of the Major Bridge P3 Initiative. More information on bridge tolling and the PennDOT Pathways program can be found in the Bridge Tolling section of this open house below.
PennDOT, in coordination with FHWA, is preparing EAs for the Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (P3) Initiative candidate bridges in accordance with NEPA. These EAs examine the significance of potential impacts to natural, social, economic, and cultural resources from the alternative(s) under consideration. The results of the EAs' environmental analyses will determine whether an Environmental Impact Statement needs to be prepared, or whether a Finding of No Significant Impact can be issued.
The project team previously hosted public meetings on this project, online and in person in November and December 2021, and virtually in March 2021.
The project is currently in preliminary design, and construction is anticipated to begin in 2024.
The project proposes to replace three sets of bridges in the project area:
- The eastbound and westbound bridges on I-80 over the North Fork Redbank Creek and Water Plant Road.
- The eastbound and westbound bridges on I-80 over Jenks Street (SR 4003).
- The eastbound and westbound bridges on Richardsville Road (SR 4005) over I-80.
To address the substandard curvature of the eastbound North Fork bridge, this project includes the realignment of the eastbound bridge to run parallel to the westbound bridge, which will be reconstructed in its existing location. The existing roadway on I-80 eastbound will be abandoned.
In addition, this project will extend three existing culverts.
Two lanes of traffic in both directions on I-80 will be maintained during construction.
The project team does not anticipate any detours on I-80 throughout the duration of construction. During certain construction activities, such as tie-in work, temporary lane closures might occur, leading to occasional traffic delays during peak hours.
We anticipate detours on both Jenks Street (SR 4003) and Richardsville Road (SR 4005).
The estimated cost of construction for the I-80 North Fork Bridges Project is between $160 million and $195 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.pa.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 North Fork Bridges Project is one of nine 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 North Fork Bridges to pay for their construction, maintenance and operation.
Based on feedback received from the public and at stakeholder workshops, and because of the 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: North Fork, Canoe Creek, Nescopeck and Lehigh River bridges. Traffic would be tolled westbound at North Fork and eastbound at Canoe Creek; westbound at Nescopeck and eastbound at Lehigh River. Tolls are expected to be $1-$2 for passenger cars using E-ZPass at each toll location. The one-way tolling will reduce the number of tolls drivers would have to pay on I-80, as well as overall diversions and the need for additional tolling infrastructure.
To implement the toll with All-Electronic Tolling (such as E-ZPass or toll-by-plate), a toll collection facility (gantry, building and utilities) would be constructed for the westbound lanes, first at a temporary location where the Route 28 on-ramp merges onto westbound I-80. A long-term tolling facility just west of the new bridges would later replace this structure. 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 prior to the nearest exit 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 North Fork 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 bridge's 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 MBP3 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
An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a document that examines the significance of potential impacts to natural, social, economic and cultural resources from the alternative(s) under consideration. The EA for the I-80 North Fork Bridges Project was prepared to address the requirements of NEPA, which requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions.
The results of the EA's environmental analyses will determine whether an Environmental Impact Statement needs to be prepared, or whether a Finding of No Significant Impact can be issued.
Section 106 (Cultural Resources)
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act is applicable to federal agencies and requires identification of, and assessment of the 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 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.
The previously recorded Haugh site, which has Archaic, Transitional and Early Woodland period cultural components, is located adjacent to this project's APE. The Stonewall Spring site, a 19th- to early 20th-century domestic site, is located within the APE. No permanent or temporary impacts to either are anticipated. Both areas would be fenced off and avoided during construction.
The Brookville Historic District, which is listed on the NRHP, and the NRHP-eligible Boundary Increase, are located southwest of and immediately adjacent to the APE, but will not be impacted by the project.
Section 4(f) and Section 6(f) Resources
Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, abbreviated here for simplicity, specifies that the Secretary of Transportation may approve a transportation project requiring the use of publicly owned land of a public park, recreation area, or wildlife or waterfowl refuge, or land of an historic site only if there is no prudent and feasible alternative and the project includes all possible planning to minimize harm resulting from the use, or the use is de minimis (or negligible).
Walter Dick Memorial Park, which is located below the bridges, will be impacted because permanent right-of-way is needed for new pier locations. No active recreation areas will be permanently impacted; however, a portion of a nature trail will need to be relocated on the eastern side of North Fork Redbank Creek.
Additionally, the project will require temporary access roads during construction. Approximately 1.2 acres of park property will be permanently impacted and approximately 5.5 acres will be temporarily impacted.
PennDOT conducted a virtual public meeting in March 2021 to collect public comments on potential impacts to the park. In response to the single comment received on the park, PennDOT will minimize impacts to mature trees. In addition, a flyer was posted in the park in August 2021 seeking input on proposed impacts. No additional comments were received.
It was determined that the impacts to the park would be de minimis (or negligible). The park will remain open for recreational activities during construction, though park access may be temporarily limited during certain activities, such as bridge demolition or girder installation. When known, information about temporary park restrictions will be posted to the I-80 North Fork Bridges Project website and the Brookville Borough website.
Walter Dick Memorial Park is also protected under Section 6(f) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965. The LWCF Act created the LWCF State Assistance Program to assist in preserving, developing and assuring all citizens of the United States the availability of outdoor recreation resources. The program provides matching grants up to 50 percent to states and through states to local governments for acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation sites and facilities. The Act contains mandatory provisions to protect property acquired or developed with assistance of the LWCF. The National Park Service (NPS) is the federal agency responsible for administering the LWCF. The state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has confirmed that LWCF funds were used to purchase land for the Walter Dick Memorial Park. The entire park is afforded protection under Section 6(f).
As such, any land necessary to be acquired for construction of the project would be considered a conversion from public outdoor recreation use to transportation use. A temporary construction easement occupied longer than 180 days is considered a permanent conversion also requiring replacement of property.
PennDOT will provide replacement land for the Section 6(f) conversion (required right-of-way, and temporary construction easements). This replacement land will also serve as part of mitigation for the Section 4(f) use of Walter Dick Memorial Park.
Because this project includes significant changes in the highway's alignment, it is eligible for consideration of noise abatement. A noise analysis was conducted and included monitoring of existing conditions and modeling for future conditions.
Several noise-sensitive areas (NSAs) were assessed, including the Brookville Area High School and surrounding grounds, Brookville Cemetery and two residences north of I-80. South of the highway, an existing sound barrier wall needs to be replaced. The preliminary results of the noise analysis concluded that two noise barrier locations were both feasible and reasonable and will be carried forward into final design. These walls, including their type and style, were approved by the public through a public voting process.
Wetland and Waterways Impacts
Wetland and waterway impacts were studied as a part of the NEPA process. The following impacts were identified.
|Streams, Rivers & Water Courses
|Intermittent (Streams Only)
||877 linear feet
||4,488 linear feet
||581 linear feet
|Wild Trout Streams
|Stocked Trout Streams
||68 linear feet
|Federal Wild & Scenic Rivers & Streams
|State Scenic Rivers & Streams
|Coast Guard Navigable Waterways
|Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Water Trail
|Recreational Boating Waterway
||68 linear feet
North Fork Redbank Creek is identified as a National Wetlands Inventory riverine habitat and is designated as a High Quality Cold Water Fishes resource per Pennsylvania Water Quality Standards. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission also designates the creek as a stocked trout stream. In-stream construction restrictions for Stocked Trout Waters (March 1 through June 15) will be observed.
North Fork Redbank Creek is also listed by "Keystone Canoeing" as a canoeable waterway. Temporary and permanent impacts to North Fork Redbank Creek are anticipated. Permanent impacts associated with the installation of piers and scour protection should have no long-term impact to recreation in this area, as Keystone Canoeing suggests canoers recreate on the waterway portage upstream of, and around, the existing dam. Signs would be placed to alert canoers of the bridge construction.
|Vegetated (Palustrine Emergent and Scrub Shrub)
Field investigations identified and delineated 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 0.163 acres. Approximately 0.014 acres of temporary wetland impacts are anticipated for temporary grading and access roads.
Threatened and Endangered Plants and 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 comprises 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 is 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 I-80 North Fork Bridges, an estimated 4 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 and would only collect tolls on the westbound North Fork Bridge.
So where would the majority of the diverting traffic go? The primary diversion route identified in the model is along State Route 28 and US Route 322 into Brookville and on State Route 36. This route is shown on the map below. You can click on the map to enlarge it.
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 40 to 120 vehicles per hour, and traffic on the primary diversion route would increase by approximately 40 to 90 vehicles per hour, with the remainder of traffic expected to use other routes. Because the toll will only be collected on westbound traffic, there is no expected diversion in the eastbound direction.
Peak Hour Traffic Volume Table
||Time of Day
|Primary Diversion Route
||AM Peak Hour
|Primary Diversion Route
||PM Peak Hour
|I-80 North Fork Bridges
||AM Peak Hour
|I-80 North Fork Bridges
||PM Peak Hour
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.
Traffic Demand Model
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 impacts to the diversion route was undertaken. The graphic below highlights the key methodology for the evaluation of the diversion route.
Prioritize routes that add more than 100 vehicles per day
No toll vs. tolling scenario comparisons
Intersections, traffic control, signage, & pavement conditions
Crash Data Summary
Identify crash patterns & crash rates
Depict operational issues & capacity limitations
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 August 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.