PennDOT plans for major I-80 bridge replacement

Staff writer

The start is still at least two years away, but when the replacement of the Interstate 80 bridges over Canoe Creek in Beaver Township begins, the work will take three years.

Bob Schmidt, an engineer for the Pittsburgh firm of HDR said Sept. 5 the new bridge that will replace the older pair of bridges will be wide enough to accommodate six lanes of traffic, (three in each direction), if it is ever required.

Schmidt said the purpose of this project is to remove and replace the existing poor condition bridges that carry Interstate 80, eastbound and west bound, over State Route 4005 (Tippecanoe Road) and Canoe Creek.

Schmidt said construction would begin in 2022 and continue for about three years.

The cost of the project is expected to be between $95 and $100 million dollars.

The east and westbound bridges were built in 1966 and are “functionally obsolete” due to the curb-to-curb width.

Both structures possess “problematic fatigue details.” Both bridges have had “multiple retrofits” over the past 50 years.

Traffic on Interstate 80 will be diverted by means of a cross over but Schmidt said two-way traffic in each direction would be maintained.

Schmidt said there might be “rolling roadblocks” on Interstate 80 but they would be limited and, hopefully, only on weekends. He said that would probably be to bring in the girders for the bridge.

The project area will begin at the weigh stations and continue to the Knox interchange.

Schmidt said the new roadway would “flatten out” curves to make the road safer.

The new bridges will be placed between the existing bridges according to Schmidt.

The new bridges will be significantly wider said Schmidt. The current bridges have 12-foot lanes and four-foot shoulders. The new bridges will be 56 feet from curb to curb. The new width will help with future re-decking projects, traffic control during accidents, bridge expansion and possible future expansion of the highway to tree lanes.

Schmidt said the new bridges are designed using steel beams and are anticipated to have a life expectancy of 100 years. He said the bridges would be steel girder beams typically used by PennDOT.

The existing bridges will need to removed “in their entirety” according to Schmidt.

Although Tippecanoe Road will not be closed permanently, at certain points during the construction the road may be closed temporarily.

In those cases, the contractor will notify emergency services in advance so that alternate routes may be considered.

The plans also protect the historic Tippecanoe furnace that stands along Tippecanoe Road.

“The design approach will prioritize avoidance” of site.

The effect on Tippecanoe Creek, which is a high quality cold water fishery, will also be minimized.

The project will not affect the operation of the weigh stations along Interstate 80. The eastbound station will remain closed for mechanical reason however.

The eastbound bridge carries 12,540 vehicles daily and the westbound bridge 12,737 with truck traffic accounting for 50 percent of that traffic.