NEW HOPE, PA – The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission today moved one step closer in completing the environmental documentation process for the I-95/Scudder Falls Improvement Project by approving an Interagency Agreement with the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation.
“This is the last major piece of the lengthy review process this project has undergone to be in compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA),” said Frank G. McCartney, the Commission’s executive director. “We are cautiously optimistic of having a NEPA decision somewhere in the not-too-distant future.”
According to the new document, the Commission will conduct a pre-construction and post-construction traffic study to determine actual traffic diversion experiences after a new Scudder Falls Bridge is built and the bridge’s southbound motorists are charged tolls to pay for the new facility.
The Commission plans to use a cashless tolling system – no toll booths – consisting of EZPass tag readers and high-resolution cameras to identify and charge non-E-ZPassequipped vehicles through license plate identification. These systems, which collect tolls from motorists driving at highway speeds, are increasingly being used on new roadways in other areas of country. Also, several toll agencies around the country are considering converting to cashless systems, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
The additional traffic studies identified in the Interagency Agreement will be used to verify the findings of a traffic study the Commission conducted in 2010-11 after approving tolling for the replacement bridge in December 2009. The diversion study showed that rather than causing an inordinate amount of traffic to divert to and overwhelm other bridges and local roads, cashless tolling of a new Scudder Falls Bridge will help to alleviate regional traffic congestion during weekday evening peak driving periods (going from New Jersey to Pennsylvania).
The diversion study also indicated that any diversions during off-peak hours will not create new traffic congestion problems on local roads and bridges. The combined improvements from the Scudder Falls project (additional travel lanes, safer entrance and
exit ramp conditions) should also reduce regional traffic congestion because more motorists will use the bridge in the non-toll direction (Pennsylvania to New Jersey) during peak and non-peak hours.
Under today’s Interagency Agreement, the Commission commits to taking reasonable measures to mitigate traffic diversion impacts on Pennsylvania and New Jersey state roads in the event the post-construction traffic study and analysis identifies issues not previously identified in the project’s traffic diversions study, providing the issues are attributable to the tolling of the replacement Scudder Falls Bridge.
With the Commission’s action today, the Interagency Agreement now gets circulated among the DOTs and the Commission for final signature.
The Interagency Agreement was called for under the project’s Environmental Assessment Addendum that the Commission issued late last year. The EA documentation – now totaling 870 pages – identifies and assesses how the project may impact the environment, including aesthetics, air quality, noise, water quality and aquatic life, historic resources, and cultural resources.
The Addendum was prepared to evaluate the potential impacts of the cashless tolling system – no toll booths – that will be established in the southbound direction at the Scudder Falls Replacement Bridge. The Addendum also officially disclosed the Bridge Commission’s April 2010 decision to include the construction of a bicycle/pedestrian pathway on the new bridge.
More Project Information
For more information, individuals should access the project Web site – www.scudderfallsbridge.com — or call the project hotline telephone number at 1-800879-0849.
About the Commission
The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission was formed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey in 1934. It operates seven toll bridges and 13 toll-supported bridges, two of which are pedestrian-only spans. The Commission is a self-supporting public-service agency that receives neither federal nor state tax dollars to finance its projects or operations. Funding for the operations, maintenance and upkeep of its bridges and related transportation facilities is solely derived from revenues collected at its toll bridges. The Commission’s jurisdiction extends along the Delaware River from the Philadelphia-Bucks County line north to the New Jersey/New York border. The bridges carried more than 137.4 million cars and trucks in 2011. For more information about the Commission and its various initiatives to deliver safer and more convenient bridge travel for its customers, please see: www.drjtbc.org.