Skinners Falls Bridge Project
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) District 4-0, together with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Region 9, is conducting a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study for the Skinners Falls Bridge.
The Skinners Falls Bridge crosses the Delaware River, connecting the communities of Milanville, PA, and Skinners Falls, NY. In recent years, the bridge has undergone a series of traffic closures due to observed structural issues followed by emergency repairs and re-openings. A customer complaint and subsequent District Bridge Unit inspection on October 16, 2019, identified timber deck and lateral truss bracing deterioration requiring the bridge to be closed.
PennDot is conducting a PEL study to identify the transportation purpose and need for the project. The next steps for the study include a Historic Bridge Rehabilitation Analysis, additional technical studies, and alternatives development, followed by an environmental assessment as part of the NEPA phase.
REMINDER: Skinners Falls Bridge is closed to all pedestrians and bicycles.
The Skinners Falls Bridge has been closed to traffic for all users, including bicycles and pedestrians, since 2019 due to safety concerns related to the condition of the bridge. Fencing is being installed at the ends of the Skinners Falls Bridge immediately to ensure the safety of all users. Please follow the posted detours to travel between New York and Pennsylvania in this area. If you have additional questions please reach out via the project hotline or email address listed below.
PennDOT completed the first phase (Phase 1) of a Historic Bridge Rehabilitation Analysis (HBRA) and conceptual bridge alignment locations for the bridge and presented their findings and next steps to the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) and federal and state resource agencies (agencies).
The Phase 1 analysis evaluated how much weight or load a rehabilitated bridge could carry while meeting the Secretary of Interior's (SOI) Standards for Rehabilitation. The HBRA Phase 1 document was posted to PennDOT's Pennsylvania Transportation and Heritage (PATH) webpage on May 25, 2023, and comments are being solicited for 30 days, until June 25, 2023, from the PA and NY State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO) and consulting parties. View the Phase 1 Historic Bridge Rehabilitation Analysis (PDF) here.
A second phase of the analysis, HBRA Phase 2, will take place during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process and should be ready in Winter 2024/2025. The HBRA Phase 2 will examine how well the HBRA Phase 1 rehabilitation alternatives as well as other non-traditional improvements will meet the project Purpose and Needs and the SOI Standards for Rehabilitation.
PennDOT developed six conceptual alignment locations for a replacement bridge and studied the impacts of each on the historical, socioeconomic, and environmental resources in the project area. After reviewing the impacts and the pros and cons for each conceptual alignment, three alignments were recommended for further study and three alignments were recommended for dismissal. PennDOT requested comments and consensus on the alignments from the cooperating and participating agencies. The alignment locations were also presented to the PAC. View the May 2023 PAC Meeting presentation slides here.
The draft Coordination Plan for Public and Agency Involvement was available for review by members of the PAC and agencies. The Coordination Plan defines the process that PennDOT will use to communicate PEL and subsequent NEPA information to the public and resource agencies. View the final Coordination Plan for Public and Agency Involvement here.
PennDOT presented the planned schedule and upcoming activities for the Historic Bridge Rehabilitation Analysis (HBRA) and new bridge alternatives analysis to the PAC in January 2023 and to agencies in December 2022. The HBRA will be completed in two phases. The Phase 1 analysis evaluates the potential weight-carrying capacity of the rehabilitated bridge and whether it meets the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation. HBRA Phase 2 will look at HBRA Phase 1 rehabilitation alternatives as well as other non-traditional improvements that will meet the project's Purpose and Needs. For the new bridge alternatives analysis, the study team will identify environmental constraints, develop and assess crossing locations, develop bridge cross sections, as well as develop and assess bridge types.
About 200 property owners, residents, and businesses within close proximity to the bridge were mailed invitations to participate as a consulting party. Of those invitations sent, 57 people have responded (4/26/2023). A full list of the consulting parties is available on PennDOT's Pennsylvania Transportation and Heritage (PATH) webpage under the "project-specific information" section in the "consulting parties" tab.
In preparation for upcoming field surveys and studies, PennDOT mailed Notice of Intent to Enter (NOITE) letters in mid-August 2022 to select residents and property owners near the Skinners Falls Bridge. The mailing stated the need for the Department to access the property to collect information on the cultural and environmental features of the bridge structure and study area.
The draft Purpose and Need document and public comment form for Skinners Falls Bridge were available on the project website from December 8, 2021, to February 7, 2022. Hard copies of the draft Purpose and Need document and comment form were available at three locations in the project area. Information learned through the April 2021 project survey and email comments, along with feedback from the Project Advisory Committee and emergency management professionals, and past bridge usage data, were considered in the development of the draft Purpose and Need statement.
View the final Purpose and Need Document here and read the draft Purpose and Need Document Public Comment Response Report here.
PennDOT and NYSDOT held a second Project Advisory Committee meeting on September 23, 2021. View a copy of the slideshow here. An Agency Coordination Meeting (ACM) was held on October 27, 2021, to review the Draft Purpose and Need document ahead of the public review.
The study team conducted a survey from March 31 to June 1, 2021, to gain input from the community to better understand the transportation needs for this location. Data and the comments from the survey have been analyzed and summarized in this document posted to the project website. View the project survey results here.
If you have any questions or comments or would like to be added to the project mailing list to receive future updates on the Skinners Falls Bridge PEL Study, please contact the project hotline at (610) 234-5148 or Skinnersfallsbridge@aecom.com.
PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission (PHMC) produced an educational video about Pennsylvania's historic bridges and their contribution to Pennsylvania's cultural landscape. This video can be seen on PennDOT's Cultural Resources webpage here.
The following are informational fact sheets or web pages produced/owned by FHWA:
Planning and Environment Linkages Fact Sheet, Opens in A New Window (PDF)
Environmental Review Toolkit, Opens in A New Window
NEPA Overview, Opens in A New Window
Section 106 and Consulting Parties
Anyone with an expressed interest in or a concern with effects to historic properties in Milanville or the Skinners Falls bridge can request to become a Section 106 consulting party via PennDOT's cultural resources public consultation website PATH for the Skinners Falls Bridge project via this link: https://path.penndot.gov/ProjectDetails.aspx?ProjectID=4487. The PATH website also has information pertaining to the rights and responsibilities of a consulting party.
PEL Public Notice
This PEL Study is being undertaken in accordance with 23 United States Code (USC) Section 168 as well as with 23 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 450.212. Under these authorities, analyses conducted during planning may be adopted and incorporated directly or by reference into subsequent environmental documents prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), provided that the studies are adequately documented; interested Federal, State, local, and Tribal agencies are involved; a reasonable opportunity for public review and comment on the PEL Study is provided; and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is engaged.
Pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, PennDOT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. If you feel that you have been denied the benefits of, or participation in a PennDOT program or activity, you may contact the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Bureau of Equal Opportunity, DBE/Title VI Division at 717-787-5891.