The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is developing plans to link Interstate 81 and the Turnpike's Northeastern Extension, Interstate 476, in the Scranton area to form a beltway that will help ease congestion on I-81. The plan calls for highway-speed connections
that will enable motorists to seamlessly drive from interstate to interstate in northbound and southbound directions.
The project will include two separate connections between the Turnpike's Interstate 476 and PennDOT's Interstate 81
Clarks Summit to the north of Scranton in South Abington Township, Lackawanna County
Wyoming Valley to the south of Scranton in the Borough of Dupont and Pittston Township, Luzerne County
Making the links between the two highways more convenient will attract more vehicles onto the Northeastern Extension and help ease congestion on I-81. More than 70,000 vehicles a day use portions of I-81 through the Scranton region, while the Northeastern Extension carries about 10,000 vehicles a day.
Funding for the Scranton Beltway Project comes as a direct result of the 2013 passage of Act 89, Pennsylvania's comprehensive transportation-funding measure.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, in collaboration with PennDOT, is developing preliminary plans to link Interstate 81 and the Turnpike's Northeastern Extension, Interstate 476, in the Scranton area to form a beltway that will increase the utilization of I-476, and help ease congestion on I-81 and local roads. The plan calls for highway-speed connections that will enable motorists to seamlessly drive from interstate to interstate in northbound and southbound directions.
The project will include two separate connections between Interstate 476 and Interstate 81:
• Clarks Summit to the north of Scranton in South Abington Township, Lackawanna County
• Wyoming Valley to the south of Scranton in the Borough of Dupont and Pittston Township, Luzerne County
How is this project funded?
The project is funded primarily by Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission toll revenue along with $40 million in Federal Funds through PennDOT.
How much will this project cost?
The preliminary cost estimate for the direct connections at Wyoming Valley and Clarks Summit is approximately $160 million (Feasibility Study, 2015).
What is the project schedule?
Study Phase: Spring 2018 - Spring 2019
Preliminary Engineering/ Environmental Assessment/ Design Field View: Spring 2019 (COVID-19 Pause) - Spring 2023
Public Meeting/Hearing: 2023 Final Engineering Design: 2023 - 2026 Construction: 2026 to …
Will there be public meetings/hearings?
Yes. A public meeting/hearing is anticipated in 2023. Attendees will have the opportunity to register to provide their comments and/or concerns on the preliminary plans for the project before the project proceeds into final design.
Who can I contact if I have questions or concerns?
Please contact the project team by visiting the contact page of
the project website.
When will I know whether my property will be affected?
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (Commission) is in the Preliminary Engineering Phase of the project, and currently does not have enough information to know which properties will be impacted. Preliminary Engineering is expected to be completed in Spring 2023. This project requires the review and approval from outside agencies prior to having a public meeting/hearing. Following the culmination of Preliminary Engineering and the receipt of necessary approvals, the Commission will hold a public meeting/hearing and more information regarding potential property impacts will be available at that time.
What are you doing to protect the environment?
In addition to coordinating with the local townships, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and PennDOT are working with local, state and federal regulatory agencies such as the Lackawanna and Luzerne County Conservation Districts, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Federal Highway Administration to make sure the environment is factored into the project design.
Does the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission coordinate their work schedules with PennDOT work schedules?
Yes. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (Commission) coordinates work schedules with PennDOT. PennDOT is working with the Commission, and will review project plans developed during preliminary engineering and final engineering design. The Commission also coordinates work schedules with the local municipalities (including emergency service providers).
How can I keep informed about the project?
We encourage you to visit the project website periodically for up-to-date project information. When new information becomes available, project newsletters will provide up to date information on the preliminary design progress and will be posted in the library.
Is the Turnpike's Edella Road bridge replacement part of the Scranton Beltway project?
No, it is a totally independent project to address the Edella Road bridge. Being in poor condition, this bridge was replaced 2019-2020. This bridge replacement project is not part of the Scranton Beltway project, but is part of the Commission's statewide program to address structurally deficient bridges.
Will public meetings/hearings comments be addressed?
Yes. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will provide documented responses to comments received.
If the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission needs to acquire my property (business or residence) for the project, what should I know about the right-of-way acquisition process?
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is committed to ensuring that property is acquired at fair market prices and, if relocation is necessary, property owners and tenants are moved to suitable locations with as little inconvenience as possible. Please
review the Property Owners’ & Tenants’ Guide. Property-Tenant-Guide.pdf
Will tolls have to be increased to pay for this project?
No. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission does not raise tolls to fund individual projects.
Will I-81 be widened?
Currently, PennDOT has no future plans to widen I-81 to six lanes in this immediate project area; however, the Scranton Beltway Project will not preclude PennDOT from widening I-81 to six lanes in the future. PennDOT is starting the design/study environmental phase on SR 0081, Section D46 I-81 Reconstruction. This project begins North of the Wyoming Valley Interchange, from Interchange 178 (Airport/Avoca) through a point approximately 0.5 miles north of Interchange 185 (President Biden Expressway).
Why has there been a change in project design schedule?
A recent directive (Spring 2022) from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for all major projects nationwide receiving federal funding required these projects to have their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review designation re evaluated. This federal directive and its resulting project changes will also change the project timeframe.
What is NEPA?
The National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA, requires that the significance of a project‘s environmental impact be evaluated for all federally funded projects. The significance of the project’s impact, not its size or cost, determines the necessary class of action as well as its process and documentation requirements.
Why has there been a delay in holding the public meeting?
A recent directive from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for all major projects receiving federal funding now requires these projects to have their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review designation re-evaluated. As a result of this re-evaluation, we were recently notified in April 2022 by FHWA that the Scranton Beltway project is no longer being designated as a Categorical Exclusion (CE) and will need to go through an Environmental Assessment (EA) process. Assembling the EA documentation is a more complex and lengthier process than what is required for a project designated as a CE. This process adds significant layers of reviews and approvals from outside agencies. An additional requirement for projects going through the EA process is to provide the opportunity for a formal public hearing, whereas under the previous CE designation, only a public meeting plans display was required.
What is an Environmental Assessment?
An environmental assessment, called an EA, is required when the significance of the environmental impacts are uncertain. The purpose of this process is to clarify any uncertainty and document the finding. If no significant impacts are found, the process is concluded with a finding of no significant impact, referred to as a FONSI. But if there are significant impacts, an environmental impact statement, or EIS, is then completed.
What is the difference between CE and an EA?
A Categorical Exclusion (CE) is required when there are no significant environmental impacts. An Environmental Assessment is required when the significance of the environmental impacts are uncertain. Assembling the EA documentation is a more complex and lengthier process than what is required for a project designated as a CE.
What is the difference between a public meeting and a public hearing?
Public meetings are held as a means to inform the public and typically include only a plans display. A public hearing is the official method for receiving public comments on the EA which documents the results of a project’s environmental and engineering studies. A public hearing differs from a public meeting in that it is formal, often held to meet legal requirements, and requires following specific protocol.
When will a public hearing be held?
We are aiming to hold a public hearing in 2023. This schedule is dependent on achieving approvals from agencies outside of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
More Project Resources
Design & Construction Details
Find out about planned design & construction activities for this project.