I-81 Susquehanna 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-81 Susquehanna Bridges Project forward, but without tolling. A Categorical Exclusion (CE) Reevaluation was prepared by PennDOT and approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The approved CE Reevaluation evaluated and documented how the project build alternative without tolling would affect the surrounding community and environment.
See the Approved CE Reevaluation (PDF)
The I-81 Susquehanna Bridges Project is a nine-mile stretch of reconstruction and repair work along I-81 from New Milford Borough to the New York border. Work includes the replacement of the dual bridges over the Susquehanna River between Hallstead Borough and Great Bend Borough, which were built in 1961 and rehabilitated in 1979, 1993 and 2006. Combined, the bridges carry about 27,000 vehicles per day, approximately 41 percent of which is truck traffic. The combined daily traffic is expected to more than double by 2045 to around 55,000.
The purpose of the I-81 Susquehanna Bridges Project is to address aging pavement and infrastructure along I-81 including the bridge over the Susquehanna River, and to lengthen on and off ramps to meet current interstate design standards and improve safety.
The project is intended to address the following needs:
Aging infrastructure. Most of the pavement in the corridor is nearly 60 years old, and the Susquehanna River bridges are approaching the end of their serviceable lifespan.
Outdated interchange designs. The on and off ramps at the interchanges throughout the corridor do not meet current and future traffic design standards.
Outdated construction methods. All structures on the corridor were constructed with reinforced concrete that contains more chloride ion content than modern standards allow. While safe, this type of reinforced concrete has a shorter lifespan than most reinforced concrete used today.
Drainage concerns. The storm system built into much of the corridor has exceeded its serviceable lifespan.
The project involves a number of construction activities, including:
- Repaving all roadway in the corridor
- Replacing five dual bridge structures, including the bridges over the Susquehanna River and one overpass structure
- Replacing the drainage system
- Replacing all guiderails, barriers and signage in the corridor
- Construction work on Susquehanna Street, PA-171 and PA-1029 (Randolph Road)
Project History & Funding
The Major Bridge P3 (MBP3) was approved by the Pennsylvania P3 board in November 2020, for the replacement or rehabilitation of nine major interstate bridges through a progressive P3 delivery model. At that time, PennDOT planned to make annual payments to pay for the work and financing costs on these bridges using mandatory tolling, as was permitted by the Pennsylvania P3 law at the time. Since that time, Act 84 of 2022 amended the P3 law to eliminate mandatory tolling of existing free lanes. The Act also preserved the department's ability to continue the MBP3 and move forward with the Predevelopment Agreement (PDA) with
Bridging Pennsylvania Partners. In August 2022, PennDOT chose to move the bridge projects in the MBP3 forward without tolling and pay for the project(s) using existing funds to make annual payments to the development entity over 35 years.
This bridge was one of six bridges in Package 1 to be delivered via the MBP3.
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