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I-83 South Bridge Project 

Environmental Assessment Open House

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PennDOT welcomes you to the Environmental Assessment Open House for the I-83 South Bridge Project.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) for I-83 South Bridge Project is available for public review HERE.

The EA, which was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), was available online for review and comment from October 17 to November 16, 2023. Printed copies were available in public locations as listed in a Notice of Availability.
In-person Public Hearings to receive public testimony on the EA were held on November 1 and November 2, 2023. All comments received by November 16, 2023, were reviewed by PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Responses to comments will be prepared and included in the NEPA decision document.

Open House Materials

Below you can find updated information about this project, including design plans, the project's purpose and need, environmental studies and schedule. 

Project Overview

Project History

The I-83 John Harris Memorial (South) Bridge was built in 1960, and widened in 1982. The bridge connects downtown Harrisburg to its neighboring communities to the west in Cumberland County, and serves as a vital connection for the region. The bridge currently carries more than 125,000 vehicles over the Susquehanna River every day. 

The I-83 South Bridge Project is part of the larger I-83 Corridor Master Plan. Prepared in 2003, the Master Plan identified several sections of I-83 that needed to be upgraded to meet traffic demands in the area. Specific independent projects identified in the Master Plan included the I-81/I-83 junction to Union Deposit Road, the Eisenhower Interchange, Eisenhower Interchange to the River, and improvements on the West Shore of the Susquehanna River to the I-83/PA-581 split. The Master Plan also identified the requirement for widening and reconstructing the South Bridge.

In 2019 and 2020, PennDOT conducted the Greater Harrisburg Area Susquehanna River Bridges Master Plan to prioritize bridge improvements across the Susquehanna River. During the study, it was determined that the South Bridge was approaching the end of its serviceable lifespan more quickly than originally anticipated. The serviceable lifespan of a bridge refers to the ability to fix a bridge with repairs versus needing to replace the structure entirely. When a bridge reaches the point in its age and use that it requires frequent, costly repairs that will shut down all or part of the bridge to traffic regularly, it has reached the end of its serviceable lifespan.

Comparing the traffic analysis conducted for the I-83 Master Plan to the analysis conducted for the River Bridges Master Plan showed that traffic has increased more quickly than was originally predicted. These higher traffic volumes cause greater wear and tear on the bridge, contributing to the bridge reaching the end of its serviceable lifespan. For these reasons identified in the 2020 River Bridges Master Plan analysis, full replacement of the South Bridge is proposed.

In February 2021, the project was selected as a candidate for bridge tolling under the MBP3 and an 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 10, 2022. On May 18, 2022, as a result of a lawsuit, the court issued an injunction and all work related to the Major Bridge Public Private Partnership (MBP3) initiative ceased. In July 2022, the General Assembly amended the state's P3 law to remove tolling as a means of funding the MBP3. Since the funds for the project will no longer come from tolling the bridge, PennDOT will program state funds and additional federal funds now available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as part of current and future Transportation Improvement Plans (TIPs) and the Department's 12-year Program (TYP).

When tolling was being considered as the funding source for the project, impacts to the surrounding communities resulting from a portion of drivers leaving the interstate to avoid paying a toll was a substantial concern for PennDOT. Since the bridge will not be tolled, toll-driven diversion of traffic onto local roads will not occur; therefore, proposed improvements identified along the diversion routes will no longer be included in the project.

As of summer 2023, PennDOT resumed work preparing the Environmental Assessment (EA), which is available now for public comment and review. 

 Accordion ‭[1]‬

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Project Design

 Accordion ‭[2]‬

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Environmental & Community Impacts

Environmental Assessment

An Environmental Assessment (EA) is a detailed study into how a project would affect the surrounding community's quality of life, including your health, safety, cultural resources, natural resources and more. The EA, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), was available for public review and comment from October 17 to November 16, 2023.

Your input is an important component of the EA process.

 Accordion ‭[3]‬

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Project Schedule

The next step is to complete the NEPA process for this project. The results of the EA's environmental analyses will determine whether an Environmental Impact Statement needs to be prepared, or whether a Finding of No Significant Impact can be issued.

Here, you can see a timeline of the project's major milestones: