HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Two public hearings will be hosted by PennDOT to allow both in-person, online, and by mail public comments on an Environmental Assessment prepared for the I-83 South Bridge project in Dauphin and Cumberland counties.

As previously reported, the I-83 John Harrisburg Memorial (South) Bridge is a candidate for bridge tolling. Under the initiative, tolls collected would be used for the replacement bridges’ construction, maintenance, and operation. PennDOT proposed the toll in 2021 and estimated that the project that could cost $600 to $800 million.

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However, Dauphin County commissioners, who have actively opposed it, noted that it would create congestion on other routes as people try and avoid the toll, and it could discourage people from crossing at all.

Commissioners were joined in March in their opposition by state and city officials, who said a toll is unfair to commuters already dealing with inflation and rising gas prices.

PennDOT, however, said a toll would be a steady source of funding. Right now, they rely heavily on gas tax revenue, and they said they are receiving $10 to $15 million less in revenue every month.

Commissioners and state legislators recognized the need to replace the bridge but said a toll is a wrong approach. The I-83 South Bridge is one of nine across the state that would be tolled. The proposed toll would be between one to two dollars.

Several municipalities in Cumberland county along with West Hanover Township in Dauphin County filed a lawsuit with the commonwealth court against PennDOT to prevent tolling on the bridge.

The in-person public hearings will take place on May 25 at the Penn Harris Hotel and on May 26 at the Hilton Garden Inn — Harrisburg East between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. An open house display on the project will begin right when the hearings begin with public testimony starting an hour later.

A project overview, maps, low-income tolling details, diversion route improvements, and EA documents will be available at the in-person hearings. They will also be online by clicking here from May 10 to June 9. PennDOT and the Federal Highway Administration suggest the public reviews and comments on the EA documents during this 30-day period.

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To provide comments on the EA, try one of the options below, as outlined in the press release:

  • Testimony will be received at the in-person hearings before an audience with a stenographer. Those providing testimonies are asked to register in advance at www.penndot.pa.gov/i83SouthBridge or by calling 717-743-1005. Oral testimony will be limited to five minutes per participant and the number of slots will depend on available time.
  • Individuals may provide testimony privately in a separate hearing room with a stenographer.
  • Written comments may be brought to the in-person hearing, completed at the event and deposited in a comment box, or mailed to: PennDOT District 8, I-83 South Bridge Project, Attn: Derek Mitch, 2140 Herr Street, Harrisburg, PA 17103.
  • Comments may be emailed to i83SouthBridge@pa.gov.
  • The public may provide comments through the form available online at www.penndot.gov/i83SouthBridge.
  • Comment forms will be provided at the in-person Public Hearing and at locations where the EA is available for review.

To learn more, click here.