NEW HOPE, PA – The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission today announced that it will include construction of a pedestrian/bike path as part of the planned replacement of the I-95/Scudder Falls Bridge. The new pedestrian/bicycle link across the Delaware River will be 10 to 12 feet wide and will greatly enhance the proposed replacement bridge’s livability and sustainability credentials.
The bridge replacement project is projected to be the largest single capital undertaking in the Commission’s history — $310 million – providing new capacity and new safety upgrades to meet both current and future traffic demands along I-95 in Pennsylvania, at the bridge’s two adjoining interchanges in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and on the bridge itself. The current four-lane bridge with no breakdown shoulders ranks as the most heavily travelled river crossings among the 20 bridges in the Commission’s system.
“The bicycle/pedestrian facility was easily the topic that received the most comments from the public during the public hearing process we conducted for the project late last year and early this year,” said Frank G. McCartney, executive director of the Commission. “It always was the Commission’s intention to include this path in the final design of the project, provided we could properly address the cost issues. We are pleased that we were able to work through these issues and will incorporate the path into the overall bridge replacement project.”
When constructed, the bike-ped facility on the new Scudder Fall Bridge would afford walkers and bicyclists with a new river crossing point and a new connection between the towpaths for the Delaware & Raritan Canal in New Jersey and the Delaware Canal in Pennsylvania.
According to the Environmental Assessment/Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation document for the I-95/Scudder Falls Bridge Improvement Project, the walkway structure on the new bridge would lead to a switchback structure that would bring the walkway down to ground level. The Pennsylvania landing would connect to Woodside Road on Bridge Commission property, and a five-foot sidewalk would be provided along Woodside Road to connect the landing and the Delaware Canal towpath.
The New Jersey landing would adjoin the west side of the NJ Route 29 Interchange and would connect to the Scudder Falls Recreation Area, through which the Delaware & Raritan Canal passes.
The Commission has been working on the Scudder Falls Bridge replacement project for over seven years.
The congestion and safety problems on the bridge were first articulated in the 1990 Traffic Study of Trenton-Morrisville Bridge Crossings over the Delaware River. In 2000, the Commission retained a consultant to conduct the Southerly Crossings Corridor Study, which examined ways to meet the future traffic demands of the Scudder Falls Bridge and the three nearby vehicular bridge crossings between Trenton, N.J. and Morrisville, Pa. This study attributed the Scudder Falls Bridge’s congestion and safety problems to its narrow configuration and the close proximity of adjoining interchanges with entrance ramps merging onto I-95.
The proposed project area would extend 4.4 miles along I-95 – from the Route 332 interchange in Bucks County, Pa. to the Bear Tavern Road interchange in Mercer County, N.J. It would be the largest single construction project in the Commission’s nearly 75-year history. The work would include a complete replacement of the existing four-lane Scudder Falls Bridge over the Delaware River with six lanes of through traffic (three in each direction), two auxiliary northbound lanes for entry/exit travel, and one auxiliary southbound lane for entry/exit travel.
Other major components of the project include:
- Widening of I-95 from the Route 332 exit in Pennsylvania to the bridge by adding an additional lane in each direction (widening to the inside of the highway).
- Reconfiguration of the I-95/Taylorsville Road Interchange in Lower Makefield Twp., Pa. by eliminating the existing eastern southbound off-ramp from I-95 and combining it with the existing western southbound off-ramp.
- Reconstruct and reconfigure the Route 29 interchange through the use of roundabouts. This option would avoid traffic signals, resulting in a folded diamond interchange with two roundabout intersections at the ramps with I-95.
- Potential addition of a bicycle and pedestrian facility on the southbound side of the bridge is being considered; a decision will be made during final design, when costs are refined and cost reasonableness can be determined.
- $7.5 million of noise-abatement walls along the approach roadways leading to and from the bridge.
To finance the multi-faceted project, the Commission has decided to implement cashless tolling at the facility due to the absence of federal and state transportation funding. The Commission committed to cashless tolling because it would have been unfair to apply the financial burden to motorists at its seven existing toll bridges, most notably customers who use the I-78, and Delaware Water Gap (I-80) Toll Bridges.
Cashless tolling will avoid the need for construction of a conventional toll plaza that could create congestion and delays for drivers. The “all electronic system” will utilize EZPass transponder readers and high-resolution cameras to identify drivers without EZPass. The Commission would bill drivers who do not possess the electronic tollcollection transponders.
On December 9, the Commission released the 561-page draft Environmental Assessment for the I-95/Scudder Falls Improvement Project for public review and comment. The document is a detailed study of the project’s Preferred Alternative, other design alternatives, and their potential impacts on the environment and local communities, as well as the Commission’s mitigation efforts. The comment period ended in early February and the Commission is in the process of preparing its report to the Federal Highway Administration.
The bridge replacement project is part of a comprehensive capital improvement program launched by the Commission in 2001 focused on system preservation, system protection, system management, and system enhancement. The Commission has completed the rehabilitation of 10 of its 20 bridges, expending $365 million from 2001 to 2009. The Commission anticipates additional expenditures of $765 million through 2019 for capital improvements for a total expenditure of $1.13 billion for the period 2001-2019.
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’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 139.5 million vehicles in 2009. 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.