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I-80 North Fork Bridges Project

I-80 North Fork Bridges Project

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Project Overview

The I-80 North Fork Bridges

The I-80 North Fork Bridges are dual structures (one eastbound and one westbound) that were 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 in Jefferson County. Combined, the bridges are expected to carry approximately 30,897 vehicles daily by 2026. Approximately 44 percent of the traffic over the bridges is truck traffic.

Study Area Map

The study area for the I-80 North Fork Bridges Project lies entirely in Jefferson County. The eastern project limit is just east of the Richardsville Road (SR 4005) overpass. The study area includes both the westbound (WB) and eastbound (EB) bridge structures over the North Fork Redbank Creek and extends westward to just beyond where I-80 passes over Jenks Street (SR 4003). The project includes the replacement and realignment of the North Fork Bridges on I-80, as well as the replacement of the dual I-80 bridges over Jenks Street and the Richardsville Road bridges over I-80. The project also includes the extension of three culverts, including the North Fork Park Culvert, which carries I-80 traffic over the tributary to North Fork Redbank Creek.

Purpose & Need

The purpose of the project is to provide safe and reliable 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 eastbound bridge is in poor condition and the westbound bridge is in fair condition; inspections are required on a six-month and one-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.

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 bridges and aging structures

Both bridge structures are approaching the end of their serviceable lifespan. The structures have become susceptible to fatigue-related fractures because of their age and the amount of wear and tear caused by vehicles on the bridges. In the near future, this wear and tear will cause the need for more frequent and costly repairs. The eastbound bridge is in poor condition, and the westbound bridge is in fair condition.

Need for design improvements

The existing roadway system is outdated and does not meet current design standards. Specifically, the curve on the western edge of the eastbound bridge is not suitable for 70-mile per-hour traffic, and many crashes, nearly twice the state average, have occurred on this segment of I-80.

Project Design

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.

I-80 north fork design plan map
Click to view design plan map larger.

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). A detour for users of Jenks Street is needed during the replacement of the I-80 bridges over SR 4003 (Jenks Street) and is anticipated to be in place for approximately one construction season. This 3.1-mile detour route would use SR 0028 (West Main Street), SR 0036 (Allegheny Boulevard) and SR 0322 (US 322; West Main Street).

A detour for users of Richardsville Road is also anticipated during the replacement of the Richardsville Road bridges over I-80 and is anticipated to be in place for approximately one construction season. The detour route would use SR 0322 (US 322, East Main Street), SR 0028 and T-430 (Butler Cemetery Road) and would be approximately 5.3 miles overall.

PennDOT will continue to coordinate with the Brookville Area School District and EMS providers throughout the design and construction process.

Rendering of two bridges over a river.
Proposed I-80 North Fork Bridges (looking south toward Walter Dick Memorial Park)

Environmental Studies & Mitigation

Categorical Exclusion

A Categorical Exclusion (CE) documents how a project would affect the surrounding community's quality of life, including health, safety, cultural resources and more.

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 CE is being 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. Approval of the CE is anticipated this fall (2022).

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.

Noise Analysis

Because this project includes substantial changes in the highway's alignment, it warrants analysis of noise conditions and 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 and it was determined that two noise barrier locations were both feasible and reasonable and will be carried forward into final design. Sound barrier walls are proposed along I-80 EB and WB from a point just west of the I-80 over Jenks street bridges to a point near the proposed I-80 EB and WB bridges over North Fork Redbank Creek and Water Plant Road. These noise barriers, 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 & Waterways Presence Impacts
Permanent Stream Impact Present 5,378 linear feet
Temporary Stream Impact Present 1,786 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 reistrictions for Stocked Trout Waters (February 1 through June 1) will be observed and an Aids to Navigation Plan (ATON) will be prepared and approved by the PFBC prior to construction. Compensatory mitigation will be determined during Final Design and permitting in coordination with the PA DEP and USACE.

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.

Wetlands Presence Impacts
Open Water Not Present No
Vegetated (Palustrine Emergent and Scrub Shrub) Present 0.163 acre
Vegetated Forested Not Present No
Exceptional Value Not Present No

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 .009 acres of temporary wetland impacts are anticipated for temporary grading and access roads. Mitigation measures will be taken during construction, such as fencing, timber matting, etc.

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.

Environmental Justice

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.

While there may be low income and minority populations living in the general project area, the project involves replacing an existing bridge and improvements to the existing roadway. The end result will be an improved roadway for all to use. There will be no disproportionately high and adverse effects on low income and minority populations.

Socioeconomic Areas

Public Facilities & Services: Access for public facilities and services would be improved due to design improvements resulting from the project.

Right of Way Acquisitions: No relocation of people, businesses or farms; all acquisition conducted in accordance with the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisitions Policies Act of 1970, as amended; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the Pennsylvania Eminent Domain Code of 1964.

No effects on regional and community growth, community cohesion or aesthetics.