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PennDOT Pathways I-83 South Bridge Online Meeting

I-83 South Bridge Project

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Virtual Public Meeting

Click the video below for an introduction to the project:

Thank you for joining us to learn more about the I-83 South Bridge Project. We're here to provide information on the project's history, purpose and need, design alternatives, process, schedule and funding, and to explain how you can stay informed and get involved.

To respect your health and adhere to public safety and social distancing guidelines, we are presenting information on this project through an on-demand virtual public meeting. You can access this meeting any time between February 18 and March 29, 2021, at your convenience.

Comments will be accepted through March 29 when the meeting closes.

How To Navigate This Meeting

To advance to the next portion of the meeting, scroll down or use the navigation bar at the top of the page to revisit any part of the meeting.

Project History

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.

I-83 Corridor Master Plan

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 River to the I-83/PA-581 split. The Master Plan identified the need for widening of the piers and replacement and widening of the bridge deck for the South Bridge.

In 2019, we conducted the River Bridges Master Plan to prioritize bridge improvements across the Susquehanna River. During the study, we found 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 2019 River Bridges Master Plan analysis, full replacement of the South Bridge is proposed.

Study Area

The study area for the South Bridge project spans both Dauphin and Cumberland counties. The eastern project terminus is the eastern touch down of the bridge on the east shore. The study area includes the South Bridge over the Susquehanna River and extends to the western terminus at the I-83/PA-581 split. The project includes widening and full replacement of the South Bridge, widening and reconstruction of I-83 on the west shore, and reconfiguration of the Lemoyne interchange.

Purpose & Need

At 61 years old, the South Bridge is nearing the end of its serviceable lifespan. This means that wear and tear is occurring more frequently, requiring more frequent and costly repairs.

The purpose of the I-83 South Bridge Project is to improve traffic flow and safety in the Harrisburg metro region. The project is currently undergoing environmental studies to complete the Environmental Assessment.

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

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.

Limited bicycle and pedestrian mobility in the project area

On the west shore, I-83, the existing interchange design and the location of the railroad hinder the ability for people walking and cycling to access communities and businesses north and south of the interstate and railroad.

Project Alternative

Alternative Development

In determining how to address the needs of the project, several constraints were taken into consideration:

  • The Dock Street Dam is north of and in close proximity to the South Bridge particularly at the eastern end of the bridge; widening or replacement to the north of the existing structure would not be reasonable as it would impact the dam.
  • The bridge currently carries over 125,000 vehicles per day and is congested during peak rush hour periods; maintenance of traffic during construction is of concern.
  • Constructing the new northbound lanes to the south of the existing structure while maintaining traffic on the existing bridge makes sense. Traffic can then be shifted to the new structure, while the existing bridge is demolished, and the new southbound lanes built in its place and traffic redistributed.
  • At the touchdown of the bridge on the east shore, constraints to consider during construction include: the Shipoke Historic District, Capital Area Greenbelt trail, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern rail lines, and the the Front Street Sewage Pumping Station facility.

When designing how the new expanded bridge would tie into existing roadways on the west shore, we addressed several key considerations.

  • Since the bridge is proposed to be widened to the south, I-83 on the west shore would also need to be widened to the south.
  • Widening I-83 to the south would require realignment of Lowther Street, routing it behind the buildings on Lowther Street to connect at Susquehanna Court. By rerouting Lowther Street, access to the Lemoyne Borough wastewater facility and offices in the area would be maintained without routing traffic through the neighborhood on Walton Street.
  • The Norfolk Southern Railroad parallels I-83 to the north constraining the redesign of the interchange on the west shore.
  • To accommodate I-83's wider design the South Third Street bridge would need to be lengthened. Given the volume of traffic on South Third Street, the bridge would be reconstructed immediately east of the existing bridge, allowing traffic to use the existing bridge during construction. The eastern replacement avoids impacting businesses on the corner of South Third Street and Lowther Street. This bridge widening will improve bicycle and pedestrian accommodations in the area.
  • The on-ramp to I-83 North would be shifted to the west beyond South Third Street, in the same location it had been before the 2015 redesign. The on-ramp would need to be shifted to accommodate the proposed widening and realignment of Lowther Street.
  • The off-ramp from I-83 South would run parallel to the interstate, crossing over the railroad tracks before intersecting with South Third Street near Plum Street.

Bridge Design Options

We are currently considering three design options for the I-83 South Bridge as depicted in the renderings:

Concrete Multi-Girder Option
Steel Multi-Girder Option
Segmental Concrete Box Option

A final decision on the bridge type would be made during Final Design of the project. Regardless of the bridge type selected, the new bridge will not have more spans than the existing bridge, and may have fewer spans. Hydrologic and Hydraulic studies will be conducted to ensure that the new bridge meets regulations.

Typical sections showing the phases of traffic flow during construction are shown below. You can see that the proposed bridge design is widened to accommodate future growth in traffic volumes and has wider shoulders to increase safety on the bridge.

Current Bridge
This is the existing I-83 South Bridge.
Bridge During Construction
New northbound lanes would be built first, south of the existing structure. Once complete, all traffic would be routed to these new lanes. The existing bridge would then be demolished and new southbound lanes would be built where the existing bridge was.
Bridge After Construction
Once the new southbound lanes are complete, the new South Bridge would be finished. At this time, traffic would be redistributed to their appropriate lanes.

Additionally, the improvements proposed for South Third Street would improve bicycle and pedestrian connectivity in the project area. You can view the proposed changes in the typical section below.

Current Third Street
This is the existing Third Street Bridge.
Third Street After Construction
The proposed design includes wider shoulders for safety and sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists.

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. An EA is being prepared for the South Bridge project to address the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Your input is an important component of the EA. The public is encouraged to provide their comments on the project during the public meeting comment periods, this winter and spring, and at the public hearing, this summer.

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act 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 project's public involvement. 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. Please provide any input regarding these cultural resources in the comment form at the bottom of this meeting.

Funding

The estimated cost of construction of the I-83 South Bridge Project is between $500 million to $650 million.

PennDOT Pathways is a program to identify and implement alternative funding solutions for Pennsylvania's transportation system. As Pennsylvania's mobility needs have grown, the amount of funding required to support our transportation system has continued to increase. Much of our current funding comes from gas taxes and driver and vehicle fees. While this model worked well in the past, circumstances today have made it unsustainable. With PennDOT Pathways, we're looking for reliable, future-focused funding solutions that will meet our growing needs while serving our communities and all Pennsylvanians for generations to come.

PennDOT currently faces an $8.1 billion gap in annual highway and bridge funding. This means we aren't generating enough funds to properly maintain, restore and expand our transportation system. We're taking action to find reliable sources of funding through the PennDOT Pathways program.

For more information about PennDOT Pathways, visit www.penndot.gov/funding.

A black SUV drives under two steel gantries with electronic tolling cameras mounted to them. A sign to the right of the road says 'Keep Moving'.

One of the funding solutions we are studying is the implementation of bridge tolls on major bridge projects across the state. The I-83 South Bridge Project is one of several projects being evaluated as a candidate for bridge tolling as a part of the PennDOT Pathways Major Bridge P3 Initiative. You can learn more about the program and initiative at the link above.

A bridge toll is a fee that drivers pay when using a specific bridge, often by using a service like E-ZPass. The funds received from this toll would go right back to the South Bridge to pay for its construction, maintenance and operation.

As part of the EA, we are evaluating the effect bridge tolling may have on local communities from traffic diverting onto other roads to avoid paying the toll. Part of this analysis will look at potential impacts to low-income and minority populations. We will continue to work closely with you and your communities as the project advances and our EA is prepared.

Project Schedule

The project's next step is to complete the environmental studies and prepare the Environmental Assessment for the project. The EA will be made available for public review and comment, including a formal Public Hearing which is expected to take place in Summer 2021.

Construction of the project is estimated to begin in 2024. Here, you can see an estimated timeline of the project's major milestones:

Pre-Construction and Environmental Assessment Milestones

Timeline depicting project scoping in September 2020, public meetings in January and March 2021, 30-day comment period from mid-May to mid-June 2021, public hearing in June 2021, and environmental decision in mid-August 2021.
Click here to view larger.
Timeline depicting project scoping in September 2020, public meetings in January and March 2021, 30-day comment period from mid-May to mid-June 2021, public hearing in June 2021, and environmental decision in mid-August 2021.
Click here to view larger.

Estimated Project Construction Milestones

Timeline depicting potential tolling and final design and right of way acquisition beginning in 2023, anticipated construction start date in 2024.
Click here to view larger.