I-83 South Bridge Project
The I-83 John Harris Memorial (South) Bridge was built in 1960, and widened in 1982, and connects downtown Harrisburg to its neighboring communities to the west in Cumberland County. The bridge currently carries more than 125,000 vehicles over the Susquehanna River every day.
At 61 years old, the South Bridge is nearing the end of its serviceable lifespan, which means that wear and tear requires more regular, frequent, and costly repairs. In addition to the replacement of the bridge, I-83 on the west shore will be widened and improved to meet the traffic needs in the area.
The purpose of the I-83 South Bridge Project is to improve traffic flow and safety around the Harrisburg metro region. The project is currently undergoing environmental studies to complete the Environmental Assessment.
The South Bridge project is intended to address several needs:
- The bridge's aging structure. The bridge is approaching the end of its serviceable lifespan and most of the pavement on the project corridor is over 50 years old. This means that in the near future, wear and tear on the bridge will cause the need for more frequent and costly repairs.
- Current and increasing traffic volumes. The current bridge and roadway do not adequately support today's traffic and won't be able to handle future traffic volumes.
- Need for design improvements. The existing roadway system is outdated and in need of updates to meet current design standards.
The improvement project includes the total replacement of the South Bridge, widening the bridge to five lanes in each direction, and reconfiguring the Lemoyne interchange on the West Shore. A proposed alternative has been developed to accommodate a widened I-83 across the new South Bridge and improve the interchange in Lemoyne Borough.
PennDOT is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) for this project to address the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). An EA is a detailed study of how a project would affect the surrounding community's quality of life, including health, safety, cultural resources, natural resources, and more.
Summer 2023 Project Update
PennDOT resumed work preparing the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the I-83 South Bridge Project to replace the I-83 John Harris Memorial (South) Bridge over the Susquehanna River in Dauphin and Cumberland Counties. The bridge will not be tolled and is no longer included in the Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership (MBP3). The project will be moving forward with non-tolling funding sources. Further opportunities for public involvement and a Public Hearing are planned for later this year.
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 Program (TIP) 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.
April 2022 Project Update
As you may know, the I-83 South Bridge Project is part of the larger I-83 Master Plan to update the Capital City Beltway around Harrisburg through a series of projects aimed at improving traffic operations and safety. The project directly east of the I-83 South Bridge Project is the East Shore Section 3 Project (ESS3), which previously included the construction of the east shore viaduct.
As we continue the process of analyzing and developing the I-83 South Bridge Project, we have determined that combining the construction of the east shore viaduct into the construction of the I-83 South Bridge could maximize construction efficiency, reduce overall costs, shorten construction duration, and minimize impacts to traffic and other resources during construction. These efficiencies are estimated to result in savings of approximately $70 million. Therefore, the proposed I-83 South Bridge project will now incorporate the area from the eastern end of the South Bridge to Cameron Street, including the viaduct and the Front Street/2nd Street Interchange.
estimated cost of the updated I-83 South Bridge Project is $1.1 to $1.3 billion. Construction is tentatively projected to commence in 2026.