Commuters beware: PennDOT to hold public meetings on I-83 bridge tolls

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

PennDOT will hold an on-demand public meeting on its website regarding the massive Interstate 83 bridge project in Harrisburg beginning this month.

There are also two in-person hearings on proposed tolls that could affect York County commuters.

According to the state Department of Transportation, the initial tolls would likely fall in the $1 to $2 range for passenger vehicles driving in either direction on the bridge that crosses the Susquehanna River. Currently, the plan is to begin rolling them out sometime after 2023.

The I-83/South Bridge is one of nine across the state in the Major Bridge Public-Private Partnership that is under consideration for raising revenue through tolling. 

READ MORE: Traffic alert: Several York County railroad crossings to be replaced

"Bridge tolling can provide the funds to repair or replace these costly bridges without using PennDOT's current funding, which in turn allows those funds to be used for other roadway maintenance, operations and improvements," PennDOT press secretary Alexis Campbell said, in a written statement.

The I-83/South Bridge replacement project would replace the existing bridge over the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg. Also, I-83 on the west shore would be widened and improved to meet traffic needs in the area.

READ MORE: I-83 bridge in Harrisburg to close this weekend: What you need to know

The project is estimated to cost between $500 million and $650 million, which is part of a larger $2.2 billion needed to replace, rehabilitate and maintain nine bridges statewide.

"If South Bridge, with an estimated cost of up to $650 million, would need to be funded through traditional means, it would wipe out a full year of interstate project funding and nearly one-third of PennDOT’s current $1.9 billion annual overall construction program, which would limit regional projects across the state as well," Campbell said.

To solicit public opinions about the proposal, PennDOT is accepting public comments on its website through midnight on Nov. 24.

The website features various conceptual plans for the project, as well as information about detours motorists can take to avoid the tolls. There are also plans — not yet unveiled — to mitigate the costs for low-income commuters.

Commenters who use the virtual meeting website will receive confirmation that their input has been received.

For those who prefer in-person meetings, PennDOT will hold two public forums. On Nov. 9, the forum will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Harrisburg Mall, 3501 Paxton St., on the first floor across from the Wells Fargo. On Nov. 10, the forum will be held from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Penn Harris Hotel, 1150 Camp Hill Bypass, Camp Hill.

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Matt Enright can be reached via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.