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I-80 North Fork Bridges Project

In July 2022, the General Assembly amended the state's P3 law to remove tolling as a means of funding the MBP3. As a result, PennDOT is moving the I-80 North Fork Bridges Project forward, but without tolling. A Categorical Exclusion (CE) was prepared by PennDOT and approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The approved CE evaluated and documented how the project build alternative without tolling would affect the surrounding community and environment.

See the Approved CE (PDF)

Project Description

The I-80 North Fork Bridges are dual structures (one eastbound and one westbound) built in 1962 and most recently rehabilitated in 2013. These bridges cross over the North Fork Redbank Creek and Water Plant Road in Brookville Borough and Pine Creek Township, Jefferson County. Combined, these bridges are expected to carry approximately 30,900 vehicles daily. Approximately 44 percent of the traffic over the bridges is truck traffic.

The purpose of the project is to provide safe, efficient, and effective crossings of I-80 over North Fork Redbank Creek and Water Plant Road that appropriately accommodate interstate traffic with respect to connectivity, mobility, loading and geometry. The main spans of the existing bridges are steel two-girder systems with floor beams and stringers; the bridges are fracture critical since many components of the bridges are nonredundant. Both bridges have problematic fatigue details which have received multiple retrofits during the service lives of the structures. The eastbound bridge is in poor condition and the westbound bridge is in fair condition; inspections are required on a 6-month and 1-year basis, respectively. The existing bridges are separated by approximately 1,100 feet, with the Walter Dick Memorial Park located between and below the two bridges. Both bridges are reaching the end of their serviceable lifespan.

This section of I-80 has a posted speed limit of 70 miles per hour (mph) and has horizontal and vertical geometry that does not meet 70 mph design criteria. Many crashes, nearly twice the statewide average, have occurred on this segment of I-80 due to a substandard curve on the western approach to the Eastbound bridge.

In addition to the replacement of the I-80 North Fork Bridges, this project will include the replacement of the I-80 Eastbound and Westbound bridges over State Route 4003 (Jenks Street), as well as the replacement of the State Route 4005 (Richardsville Road) bridges over I-80. The project will also include the extension of the North Fork Park Culvert, which carries I-80 traffic over the tributary to North Fork Redbank Creek.

Project History & Funding

In February 2021, the project was selected as a candidate for bridge tolling under the Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (MBP3) and an Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared to study the potential impacts related to tolling and toll diversion in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The EA was made available for public comment on April 18, 2022, and a public hearing was held on May 3, 2022. In July 2022, the General Assembly amended the state's P3 law to remove tolling as a means of funding the MBP3. As a result, PennDOT is moving the I-80 North Fork Bridges project forward, but without tolling.

A Categorical Exclusion was completed for the I-80 North Fork Bridges project to evaluate and document the effects of the build alternative with tolling removed. Since tolling will not be initiated, diversion of traffic onto local roads to avoid the tolls will not occur. Therefore, the proposed improvements along the diversion routes will no longer be included in the project.

All comments received on the project's EA in Spring 2022 that were unrelated to tolling and toll diversion impacts were evaluated and considered in the development of the CE, which was approved by FHWA in October 2022.

The MBP3 program was established to accelerate the replacement and rehabilitation of major Interstate bridges. Under MBP3, PennDOT entered into a Pre-Development Agreement (PDA) with Bridging Pennsylvania Partners (BPP) to advance preliminary design work. The PDA will lead to separate contracts to finalize design, build, finance and maintain packages of bridges in the MBP3, including the I-80 North Fork Bridges. PennDOT will repay the amounts financed by the development entity through recurring availability payments over 35 years, beginning when construction is complete.

Without the funds that would have come from tolling the MBP3 bridges, other sources of funds will be necessary to complete the projects as the bridges are a critical part of the state's interstate system. This means PennDOT will have to reallocate currently programmed state funds and federal funds now available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will result in the deferral or elimination of some projects in the 2023 12-Year Program (TYP).  

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