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PennDOT releases "Summer Update" on I-83 South Bridge Project

PennDOT releases "Summer Update" on I-83 South Bridge Project

PennDOT released a Summer 2023 project update for the I-83 South Bridge Project. 

The update says: 

"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 and to expedite this critical project, the department continues to seek federal discretionary funding so the project can be delivered earlier. Further opportunities for public involvement are planned, including a Public Hearing later this year. 

PennDOT is preparing an 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."

The update includes a description of the project, stating "The I-83 South Bridge is aging. It no longer meets current design standards, and it is reaching the end of its serviceable lifespan. Due to bridge conditions and anticipated increases in traffic volumes, the bridge and its connections on the West Shore and East Shore need to be upgraded."

In November 2020, PennDOT approved a plan to toll nine interstate bridges to raise money for their repair including the I-83 South Bridge that connects Cumberland and Dauphin Counties. 

This outraged PMTA members who said the consequences of tolling would be catastrophic. Members believed the tolls would add over $5,000 in expenses per year per truck which would deeply impact any business, but particularly the small, local trucking companies.

On February 15, 2022 PMTA filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit South Fayette Township et. al v. PennDOT, a challenge by several municipalities near the I-79 Bridgeville bridge arguing that PennDOT did not follow the basic requirements of the law in its P3 process.

On May 18, 2022, the court issued an injunction putting a halt to all nine tolling projects. 

At the time of the injunction, PMTA President and CEO Rebecca Oyler released a statement saying "And although we are pleased to know that no additional motor license funds, 40% of which come from trucks, will be spent on this clear agency overreach, we wonder how many bridges could have been built with the money PennDOT has already spent on the Major Bridge P3 Initiative. "

Now, the update from PennDOT says the agency will replace the bridge using state funds and additional federal funds now available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

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