I-78 Lenhartsville Bridge Replacement 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-78 Lenhartsville Bridge Replacement 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-78 Lenhartsville Bridge was built in 1955 and was last rehabilitated in 1985. This bridge is in a rural setting and crosses Maiden Creek in Greenwich Township, Berks County. It also serves as an overpass to PA-143. The bridge carries about 50,000 vehicles daily, approximately 30 percent of which is truck traffic.
The purpose of the I-78 Lenhartsville Bridge Replacement Project is to replace the existing bridge over Maiden Creek and PA-143 and widen it to accommodate the addition of auxiliary lanes and full inside and outside shoulders on I-78 in each direction. These modifications will provide a consistent typical section along the I-78 corridor.
The project is intended to address the substandard I-78 westbound deceleration and I-78 eastbound acceleration lane lengths to and from the PA-143 interchange.
Project History & Funding
Through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process, the I-78 Lenhartsville Bridge Replacement Project was approved as a Categorical Exclusion (CE) in November 2019, and the project team was allowed to move forward with final design and right-of-way acquisition. 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 NEPA. The EA was made available for public comment on May 4, 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-78 Lenhartsville Bridge Replacement Project forward, but without tolling.
A CE Reevaluation was completed for the I-78 Lenhartsville Bridge 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.
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 Reevaluation, which was approved by FHWA in October 2022.
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-78 Lenhartsville bridge. 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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