north fork eb bridge

The eastbound North Fork bridge on Interstate 80 is pictured from below on Water Plant Road in Brookville.

BROOKVILLE – A proposed bridge project on Interstate 80 in Jefferson County could lead to tolling as part of a new initiative by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

According to a news release from PennDOT, reconstruction of the North Fork bridges on I-80 in the Borough of Brookville and Pine Creek Township is one of nine candidate projects being considered for the Pathways Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership Initiative – commonly referred to as “P3.”

The concept is to use tolls to help pay for construction costs associated with these projects. PennDOT is reporting a current budget of $6.9 billion per year for statewide repairs, or less than half of the estimated $15 billion needed for infrastructure updates, the release states.

The Canoe Creek bridges in Clarion County are also on the list of P3 project candidates.

According to several news reports, tolls would be between $1 and $2 per trip, with the possibility of tolls beginning in 2023, but varying per project.

Tolling would be all electronic using E-Z pass or license plate billing, and all toll funds would go back to the bridge for construction, maintenance and operation, according to PennDOT.

“Our reliance on funding models from the last century leaves us especially vulnerable to fund losses stemming from volatile economic conditions and the increasing transition to alternative-fuel or electric vehicles,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said in the release. “This initiative will help us make much-needed improvements without compromising the routine projects our communities and industry partners rely on.”

The cost of the Jefferson County bridge project is estimated between $165 million to $185 million. The North Fork project is in a preliminary design phase with construction anticipated to begin in 2024.

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PennDOT describes a proposed 3.1-mile detour in Brookville using Jenks Street, Allegheny Boulevard, West Main Street and U.S 322 during construction.

“As part of the environmental review process, PennDOT is analyzing how bridge tolling may impact local communities and how alternate routes drivers could take to avoid the toll may impact local traffic and roadways,” according to PennDOT’s website. “When studies are completed in summer 2021, we will present our findings for public review and comment in a virtual meeting or, if safety precautions allow, an in-person public meeting.”

Project specificsPennDOT provides the following project description, in part, on its website:

“The (I-80) North Fork Bridges are dual structures (one eastbound and one westbound) built in 1962 and most recently rehabilitated in 2013. These bridges cross over the North Fork Redbank Creek and Water Plant Road in Brookville Borough and Pine Creek Township, Jefferson County. Combined, these bridges are expected to carry approximately 30,897 vehicles daily. Approximately 44 percent of the traffic over the bridges is truck traffic.

“The purpose of the project is to provide safe, efficient and effective crossings of I-80 over North Fork Redbank Creek and Water Plant Road. Both bridges have problematic fatigue details which have received multiple retrofits during the service lives of the structures. The eastbound bridge is in poor condition and the westbound bridge is in fair condition; inspections are required on a six-month and one-year basis, respectively. The existing bridges are separated by approximately 1,100 feet, with the Walter Dick Memorial Park located between and below the two bridges. Both bridges are reaching the end of their serviceable lifespan.

“Many crashes, nearly twice the statewide average, have occurred on this segment of I-80 due to a substandard curve on the western approach to the eastbound bridge.

“In addition to the replacement of the I-80 North Fork bridges, this project will include the replacement of the I-80 EB and WB bridges over Jenks Street, as well as the replacement of the Richardsville Road bridges over I-80. The project will also include the extension of the North Fork Park Culvert, which carries I-80 traffic over the tributary to North Fork Redbank Creek.”

The learn more or to provide a comment about this proposed project, visit: www.Penndot.gov/i80NorthFork

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