Two ‘Fracture Critical’ Local Bridge Projects Need More Public Comments, Not Done Deal

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Tina Gibbs, community relations coordinator for PennDOT District 10 that covers Armstrong, Butler Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson Counties, briefed member of Clarion Rotary on Monday about “What’s going on in Clarion County.”

(Pictured above: Tina Gibbs gave a presentation to the Clarion Rotary on Monday regarding the Canoe Creek Bridges on I-80.)

It turns out there is a lot of planning going on for possible projects for Clarion County.

The “elephant in the room” is the proposed demolition of the Canoe Creek Bridges on I-80. Other planned work will be featured in future stories on

canoe bridges

The Canoe Creek Bridges were built in 1966 and extended in 1985. They cross over Canoe Creek and State Route 4005 and carry over 30,000 vehicles per day; trucks are 50 percent of the users.

Recent inspections show the westbound bridge is in poor condition, and the eastbound bridge is in fair condition.

PennDOT video explains bridge programs

“So, in the event that something major were to happen to those bridges, the only way to get into doing some of those repairs would be to shut them down, and we know what the end result looks like.

“So, we do need to get out there. We do need to get those bridges fixed through the Pathways program. When they rolled that out to us, this was one of the bridges that they decided could be a candidate bridge if it were to continue moving forward through the planning phases.

“Just as an aside, all of the bridges out there are still in what they’re calling candidate status, meaning that – as we continue to go through planning, we go through environmental studies, and additional processes.”

The estimated cost of construction is between $90 million and $105 million for the two new bridges that would be built next to the current bridges along I-80.

PennDOT says that it does not have enough funds to do all of the bridges that are candidates for replacements and have suggested tolls for the new bridges. The current federal infrastructure bill for bridges requires state funding as a partial match. Although PennDOT feels the match is feasible, the funds covering the cost of all of the candidate bridges aren’t feasible because it would use all of the funds – and then some.

A proposal by PennDOT for tolling to pay the cost of the construction includes one-way tolling on Canoe Creek eastbound in Clarion County and North Fork West in Jefferson County. Tolls would be paid through E-Z Pass or by the license plate. A tolling facility will be constructed east of the new bridge.

Drivers will not be required to stop to pay a toll. The tolling facility will record vehicles as a pass under the gantry sensor. Tolls are expected to be one $1 to $2 for passenger cars using an E–Z Pass at each toll location. Toll payment by license plate would cost more.

Bridges could come off the candidate list – not a done deal

“If at any point in time, something happens where we can’t mitigate the challenges that are presented to us, that bridge can and would come off the candidate list,” continued Gibbs. “So, this is not a done deal set in stone at any point right now.

“We do continue to move forward with the planning to see if it can become one of the projects which would end up being part of the PennDOT’s proposed project calls for the total replacement of the bridges, as well as improved roadway alignment and geometry.”

virtual bridges

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