I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges
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 Nescopeck Creek Bridges Project forward, but without tolling. A Categorical Exclusion (CE) is being prepared to evaluate and document how the project build alternative without tolling would affect the surrounding community's quality of life, including health, safety, cultural resources, environmental resources and more.
The I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges are dual structures (one eastbound and one westbound) built in 1965 and with preservation repairs last conducted in 2005. These bridges cross over Nescopeck Creek in Black Creek Township, Luzerne County. Combined, the bridges carry an average of 33,000 vehicles per day, approximately 36 percent of which is truck traffic.
The purpose of the I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges Project is to provide a sustainable travel way/crossing that accommodates interstate highway freight and mobility while providing a safe and efficient highway for motorists over Nescopeck Creek. The project will replace and widen the bridges to provide wider shoulders that meet current standards and accommodate and facilitate future maintenance activities on the bridge. Once complete, the new bridges will improve traffic flow, extend the life of existing infrastructure, and enhance traffic safety.
Project History & Funding
In February of 2021, the project was selected as a candidate for bridge tolling under the Major Bridge P3 (MBP3) Initiative and an Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared to study the potential impacts related to tolling and toll diversion in accordance with NEPA. The EA was made available for public comment on April 27 and a public hearing was held on May 12, 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 Nescopeck Creek Bridges Project forward, but without tolling.
A Categorical Exclusion (CE) is being completed for the I-80 Nescopeck Creek 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.
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.
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 Nescopeck Creek bridges. PennDOT will repay the amounts financed by the development entity through recurring availability payments over 30 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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