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I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges CE

I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges Project

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Project Overview

The Nescopeck Creek Bridges Project

The proposed project consists of the replacement of the two bridges carrying I-80 eastbound (EB) and westbound (WB) over Nescopeck Creek in Black Creek Township, Luzerne County. The existing dual structures were built in 1965 and last repaired in 2005. Combined, the bridges carry an average of 33,000 vehicles per day, approximately 36 percent of which is truck traffic.

Study Area Map

The I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges Project covers an approximately one-mile section of the interstate and includes replacement of the mainline dual bridges that cross Nescopeck Creek (see map below).

Purpose & Need

The I-80 Nescopeck Creek Bridges are aging and do not meet current design standards. The purpose of the project is to provide a sustainable travel way/crossing that accommodates interstate highway freight and mobility and to provide a safe and efficient highway for motorists over Nescopeck Creek.

We've identified the following needs this project is intended to address:

Aging Infrastructure

The bridges are nearly 60 years old and approaching the end of their serviceable lifespan. This means that in the near future, wear and tear on the bridges will require more frequent and costly repairs.

Substandard Shoulder Width

Widening the bridges will allow for traffic to be maintained during future maintenance, repair and rehabilitation activities such as redecking.

Project Design

The existing structures are 507-foot long, four-span continuous welded steel girder bridges on concrete abutments and hammerhead piers built in 1965. Each bridge carries two lanes of traffic over Nescopeck Creek.

The existing structures are proposed to be replaced with four-span continuous composite prestressed concrete bulb-tee beam bridges with reinforced concrete integral abutments and wingwalls, and reinforced concrete multi-column pier bents on spread footings. The proposed bridges will be widened to accommodate traffic control and future bridge maintenance projects but will only be striped for two lanes. The structures are proposed to be on the same alignment as the existing ones.

Phased construction will be implemented to maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction during construction. No detour of I-80 will be needed for the reconstruction of the bridge. A temporary local detour of the adjacent SR 3016 (Tank Road) will be required to accommodate the widening of I-80 EB.

You can see a plan sheet of the project design, as well as a typical section, below.

Typical Section

Environmental Studies and 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 27, 2022 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 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 (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 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/sites 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.

All proposed construction activities will take place within PennDOT's existing Right-of-Way, including existing roadbed and already-disturbed median and interchange areas. No further review under Section 106 is required.

Wetland and Waterways Impacts

Wetland and waterway impacts were studied as a part of the NEPA process. Overall, a few intermittent and perennial streams were observed along the Study Area; namely Nescopeck and Black Creeks as well as a few other unnamed tributaries to Nescopeck Creek. A few wetlands were also observed along the edge of Nescopeck Creek.

For the bridge replacement over Nescopeck Creek, the proposed construction activities will result in:

Permanent Temporary
Wetland Impacts 0.049 acres 0.118 acres
Stream Impacts 444 linear feet 732 linear feet

Nescopeck Creek is listed as Approved Trout Waters by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). Therefore, in-stream work restrictions will be required between February 15 to June 1, unless a waiver is obtained.

Alongside the road embankments of I-80 and local roadways at Exit 256 where new advance tolling signs would be placed, a few freshwater wetlands were found but all would be avoided by the proposed project.

Overall, the proposed project would result in minor permanent impacts to Nescopeck Creek and its abutting freshwater wetlands during the construction of the new bridge structures, and all temporary impacts would be restored in-kind after construction. The above in-stream work window restrictions would be followed by the contractor to avoid/minimize impacts to trout fishing. Finally, it is anticipated that minor stream and wetland mitigation requirements (offsite banking or onsite restoration) would be required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection during final design and permitting.

Threatened and Endangered Plants and Animals

Review of the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory database indicated no known threatened, endangered, and/or special concern species are present 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; no right-of-way acquisition anticipated.

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