High-traffic bridge has fallen into poor condition; steel beams are cracked and deteriorating
Proposed weight restrictions on South Bridge would greatly harm local trucking industry and commerce
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) led all 18 of his colleagues in the Pennsylvania congressional delegation in a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg in support of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s (PennDOT) application for federal infrastructure funding to replace the aging Interstate 83 John Harris Memorial Bridge, otherwise known as the I-83 South Bridge, over the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg. The bridge is currently rated in “poor condition” by PennDOT and has developed cracks in its steel beams that are expected to deteriorate further. A full replacement is necessary to save the bridge from collapse and keep traffic flowing on I-83 in South Central Pennsylvania.
“The I-83 South Bridge is an important piece of the Pennsylvania transportation network, facilitating connections to intermodal freight terminals, job opportunities, schools, and businesses large and small. With over 125,000 vehicles travelling over the bridge every day, it is crucial that this structure remain open and fully capable of carrying high volumes of traffic,” the delegation wrote.
The I-83 South Bridge’s main river spans are considered fracture critical—the failure of a single girder could potentially result in the total collapse of one or more of the bridge spans. Funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is critical to fully replace the structure to keep residents and travelers safe and protect the local trucking industry, businesses, and schools.
In addition to Senator Casey, the letter was signed by U.S. Senator John Fetterman (D-PA) and U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Brendan Boyle (D-PA-2), Dwight Evans (D-PA-3), Madeleine Dean (D-PA-4), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA-5), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6), Susan Wild (D-PA-7), Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8), Dan Meuser (R-PA-9), Scott Perry (R-PA-10), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-11), Summer Lee (D-PA-12), John Joyce (R-PA-13), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA-14), Glenn Thompson (R-PA-15), Mike Kelly (R-PA-16), and Chris Deluzio (D-PA-17).
The full text of the Pennsylvania congressional delegation’s letter to DOT is below and the signed PDF can be found here.
October 30, 2023
The Honorable Pete Buttigieg
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary Buttigieg:
We write today in strong support of the application from the Pennsylvania Department of
Transportation (PennDOT) for funding to replace the Interstate 83 John Harris Memorial Bridge
(“I-83 South Bridge”) over the Susquehanna River. Although this bridge is in South Central
Pennsylvania, it is critical for all counties of the Commonwealth that this one-billion-dollar
project receive federal assistance.
The I-83 South Bridge is an important piece of the Pennsylvania transportation network,
facilitating connections to intermodal freight terminals, job opportunities, schools, and
businesses large and small. With over 125,000 vehicles travelling over the bridge every day, it is
crucial that this structure remain open and fully capable of carrying high volumes of traffic.
However, PennDOT officials have informed us that the sixty-year-old I-83 South Bridge is now
in “poor condition” and at risk of having weight limits imposed. We understand that there are
cracks in the steel beams of the structure that will only continue to get worse, and that the scope
of deterioration means that the bridge must be replaced, not rehabilitated.
The I-83 South Bridge was part of a larger collection of nine interstate bridges that the
Commonwealth had intended to replace using revenue from a tolling plan. After Pennsylvania’s
Commonwealth Court struck down the tolling plan, the Commonwealth entered a public-private
partnership to replace six of these bridges, but not the I-83 South Bridge. As such, the I-83 South
Bridge remains the biggest unfunded transportation project in Pennsylvania.
Per PennDOT estimates, the cost of replacing this bridge is $1.1 to $1.3 billion. For reference,
during the five-year lifespan of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Pennsylvania
will receive $1.6 billion in dedicated funding for repairing and replacing bridges. Without
funding through federal discretionary grant programs, PennDOT will have to allocate formula
funding towards the project, jeopardizing dozens of other projects across the Commonwealth.
As such, we write as representatives of all corners of Pennsylvania to underscore the statewide
importance of this application. Funding the I-83 South Bridge replacement project will not just
benefit Dauphin and Cumberland Counties, but also ensure that projects from Greene County to
Wayne County receive funding and can advance.
In order to maximize the historic investments from the IIJA, it is essential that the I-83 South
Bridge receive federal discretionary funding. We thank you for your attention on this issue and
look forward to working with your Department on this and other issues that affect Pennsylvania.